WARMEST GREETINGS FROM HELPING HANDS
We know this year has been hard on all of us and we want to reach out to you with a message of joy and best wishes for the New Year 2021. We appreciate your support throughout the year, and we want to send love to you and your families through these handmade Christmas cards from our students.
WE WANT TO SHARE A MESSAGE WITH YOU
LOOKING BACK OVER OUR WORKSHOPS: OCTOBER TO DECEMBER
Considering the importance of the development of healthy sexuality, in October, Helping Hands students held a discussion about Sexual and Reproductive Health. The Centro de Educación Sexual y Reproductiva (CIES), an experienced institution on the subject, addressed the key elements of erotism, gender, effective relationships and reproduction within a social context.
A second online interactive workshop aimed to prevent child abuse by training the children about how to recognise abusive behaviour.
In November, Helping Hands raised awareness about gender equality as a means of well-being and peer acceptance. The students identified practical attitudes and practices of gender bias, and prejudices rooted in social structures.
NOVEMBER, MONTH OF SOLIDARITY
Helping Hands students spread love and solidarity during whole month of November. They put together phrases that reflected their big hearts to encourage people to be resilient. This was their way to support others in this difficult year.
If everything were easy, anyone could achieve it¡”
MEET SOME OF OUR GRADUATES
As we are still taking precautions against the COVID 19, this year Helping Hands couldn´t celebrate Christmas with a party, as is our custom. We did prepare panettone, cocoa, powdered milk and gifts for the students which we hope they enjoyed at home. Hopefully we can meet with all the students for our annual Christmas party next year.
HOW YOU CAN HELP IN 2021
We are getting ready to welcome new students for the upcoming year and once again we need your help. Donations at the beginning of the year are particularly helpful as our students start the new school year in February. Remember that you can donate online at https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/education-for-at-risk-bolivian-girls/
Building the resilience of Helping Hands students to help them face unforeseen times like this is of utmost importance for our organisation. In July, we held an online workshop with all of our students and a psychologist to address some key points: how to adapt to adversity and keep a positive attitude, how to handle anxiety, uncertainty and grief.
This was our first online workshop and we were so excited to see them all after such a long time.
This has been an unusual year for those students in their last year of school. They have a key life decision to take and decide which path to follow in the coming years. Helping Hands wants to support them to make the best decisions. With this in mind, we held the workshop “Thinking about my future” with all of our older school students to reflect on their vocational aptitudes and how to decide from amongst various career options.
Jenny is an excellent student who is now finishing high school. She realises that choosing a career is an important decision in her life. As the pandemic has caused schools to close in Bolivia, and with few online lessons, she is studying and getting ready for admissions on her own. She has great expectations for her future. Jenny wants to be an accountant or a petroleum engineer. She pictures herself working in an office, talking and helping people and being able to have her own house where she can look after her siblings.
Melanie feels sad about finishing high school without seeing her friends. However, this young determined girl has already decided to study psychology. In her own words: “I want to leave a mark on the world and in someone´s life”. She believes that becoming a psychologist will allow her to help others and understand them. She expects to be remembered by the way she treats others.
TRYING TO KEEP UP WITH THE CHALLENGES OF ONLINE EDUCATION IN BOLIVIA
These are challenging times for education in Bolivia. Most families have not been able to afford internet connections despite their extraordinary efforts. Helping Hands has been supporting the students by covering internet costs; so far we have supported 67 students. We thank our partners and donors for helping our students to connect and be part of a virtual classroom again.
We are proud of our students who, despite the adversities, have managed to stay focused on their studies. Eighteen students this year have been awarded an increase in their scholarship due to their excellent academic performance. Congratulations!
Our students during Covid 19 times
As for the rest of the world, facing these uncertain times has had a significant impact on our students. They have all written letters about their experiences during the quarantine lockdown. We analysed their letters to identify the words they most used to express their experiences. We want to share with you this general view through a word cloud.
As you can see, most of the students felt nostalgic about all the things they were missing during the lockdown. Some of them told us that they were even missing their teachers!
Their sadness and worries were often expressed in their letters; some students and their family members have lost their jobs and lifetime savings. Most of them described what happened as unexpected and they were not ready for a situation like this. We are happy to see how resilient they all have been as well as how they have adapted to this situation as a learning experience. For most this has been a growing experience enabling them to bond and feel closer to their families: “to value my family, life, food and what is really important” has been repeated often.
How education has been affected in Bolivia?
For most of our students learning online has been difficult as not all schools and universities had online platforms or systems in place to face this kind of situation. This meant some students stopped having lessons for several weeks. As the weeks went by and the quarantine was extended, the educational institutions were forced to implement some online learning solutions. This is a more difficult issue for schools in rural areas and those that do not have the technological infrastructure. Luckily 89% of Helping Hands students are continuing their education and we hope that the rest can reassume their studies as soon as their institutions are ready and able to allow them to do so by distance learning methods.
The challenge of online education
Online lessons can be challenging for both teachers and students who have not had this experience in the past or do not have the technological knowhow. Our students are facing various difficulties, such as not really understanding the subjects online, not having computers, cell phones, internet coverage in their neighbourhoods or not having financial resources to access such services. For example, only 22% of our students have Wi-Fi at home. Nonetheless, the Helping Hands students are willing to try their best to pursue their educational goals.
Helping Hands Students Hidden Talents
Lockdown has been a great opportunity for nourishing new talents. Students have learned cooking, knitting, painting, drawing, doing handicrafts, playing instruments and others. Take a look at some of their new skills.
How Bolivia is experiencing the quarantine?
Bolivia was under a very strict quarantine for over two months. People could go out for a couple of hours just once a week and this was for the purpose of purchasing provisions only. Some of the students sent photographs of how their neighbourhoods looked like during the quarantine.
How Helping Hands has been helping their students?
Our students have managed to stay in their programs throughout these years and we feel it is of utmost importance to try to guarantee that a situation like this does not affect their progress or be the cause of them dropping out. For this reason, the organisation is doing follow ups to monitor their well-being each month and is providing support where it is needed, either to cover food supplies, basic services, access to internet, hygiene or biosecurity supplies.
THIS IS HOW WE STARTED 2020
The school year in Bolivia begins in February and this year, 2020, we welcomed 87 students, 23 of them who are new. We wish them all a very successful upcoming year! We had our welcome workshop on March 1st. This was a good opportunity for the students to meet each other and for our staff to explain how everything works in Helping Hands. Thanks to our students, this was a session full of energy and joy.
HOW YOU CAN HELP THIS YEAR
Pedro, Dania and Teresa, all students of Helping Hands at the Sorata high school residence about 3 hours from La Paz need sponsors for 2020 so they can finish the year. To learn more about them, click on the links below. https://www.globalgiving.org/microprojects/high-school-education-for-one-rural-boy/
Or you might like to help support some of our post secondary students at this link: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/help-bolivian-youth-access-higher-education/
Every year our Helping Hands Students who are in the last year of their studies travel to Arica – Chile with the support of the Foundation. For most of them, this is their first time to cross an international border and to see the ocean, which is especially meaningful in Bolivia. We hope this experience enhances their perspective on life and contributes to their personal growth.
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY 2020
At Helping Hands, we want to raise awareness about gender equality among our students. This year Lizeth, educational sciences student, won the first place in our contest by answering the question: “How has education empowered you as a woman?”
MEET OUR FOUNDER
Having noticed the vast social and economic inequality in Bolivia, Linda began by volunteering in a home for boys in 2002. This experience made her realise the support that youth needed after they leave their orphanages in order to undertake a path to an independent life. This would form the beginnings of our organisation focused on education. Her love and dedication has enabled more than 300 Bolivian youth to complete educational programs and have a better quality of life.
MUCHAS GRACIAS FOR ALL YOUR SUPPORT WITHOUT WHICH WE WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO CHANGE THE LIVES OF SO MANY DESERVING BOLIVIAN YOUTH!!!
Another year has passed by and we feel proud of all our students who have completed their educational programs. In 2019, 31 of our students completed their programs of study in high school technical school and university. Here you can see some of them at our Christmas party.
This has been an amazing journey for us all. We wish them the best of luck for the future!
We are getting ready to welcome new students for the upcoming year and once again we need your help. Donations at this time of year are particularly helpful as our students are beginning the school year.
Christmas season is a good opportunity to celebrate with our students. They have delighted us with their performances, dancing and singing. As you can see, they are proving to be very talented!
We had a lovely time with the students and their families sharing a delicious hot chocolate and “paneton” (a traditional Bolivian Christmas bread). The excitement for our annual Christmas raffle and gift giving characterized the event.
A special thanks to the students of the American Cooperative School (ACS CALVERT) who shared our Christmas celebration and organized presents for our youngest students.
We would like you to meet the people that make everything possible through their hard work and a smile every day. We will be telling you more about them in the following months.
THANK YOU ALL SO VERY MUCH FOR HELPING TO CHANGE THE LIVES OF SO MANY VULNERABLE BOLIVIAN YOUNG PEOPLE. YOUR SUPPORT TRULY DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE AND GIVE THEM HOPE FOR A BRIGHTER FUTURE.
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