Support 125 children at Refugio Rafael in Bolivia

by Global Gallery, Inc.
Support 125 children at Refugio Rafael in Bolivia
Support 125 children at Refugio Rafael in Bolivia
Support 125 children at Refugio Rafael in Bolivia
Support 125 children at Refugio Rafael in Bolivia
Support 125 children at Refugio Rafael in Bolivia
Support 125 children at Refugio Rafael in Bolivia
Support 125 children at Refugio Rafael in Bolivia
Support 125 children at Refugio Rafael in Bolivia
Support 125 children at Refugio Rafael in Bolivia
Support 125 children at Refugio Rafael in Bolivia
Support 125 children at Refugio Rafael in Bolivia
Support 125 children at Refugio Rafael in Bolivia
Support 125 children at Refugio Rafael in Bolivia
Support 125 children at Refugio Rafael in Bolivia
Support 125 children at Refugio Rafael in Bolivia
Support 125 children at Refugio Rafael in Bolivia
Support 125 children at Refugio Rafael in Bolivia
Support 125 children at Refugio Rafael in Bolivia
Support 125 children at Refugio Rafael in Bolivia
Support 125 children at Refugio Rafael in Bolivia
Familia Jayllita
Familia Jayllita

We have been adapting, pivoting, adjusting and hoping throughout 2021 just like the rest of the world. Covid hit our community hard, along with some other illnesses, and it has not been easy, but we are tough and we are carrying on! I say it's time to reboot, because we are ready for a new chapter.

The last school year in Bolivia was most challenging for the members of our community. With little to no internet, very little access to computers, and the need to social distance, students had no consistent support for learning. The educational system made the choice to pass all students to the next year, but they are far from prepared for that step, so we decided to reopen the afterschool program on a staggered schedule with fewer students. So far this has been a huge boon to the students, both those living in the refugio, and those in our community. We hope to increase numbers of students as vaccinations become available.

The refuge portion of our work has welcomed in new families and we are excited to see how the community begins to evolve in terms of wider support as women gain independent living opportunities and are able to support those coming into the refuge. We know the resilience and success of the families who have stayed in the refuge for some time will be the greatest asset to our community as a whole, and our work with single mothers in crisis circumstances.

The small enterprise portion of our work is inching along, and we are thrilled to have sent an order of handcrafts to the States for wholesale and retail distribution. While the small animal production hit a road bump, we have been able to run the bread-making program as an income generator for various family members when they most needed a boost.

Each day is a gift, and we are so grateful for the bonds of friendship and community this project has helped to foster. We look forward to traveling in 2022 to offer moral as well as financial support to the project and to reconnect in person.

We thank you for your support and look forward to new momentum as we reboot this quarter and take on new challenges in 2022.

day of the child
day of the child
afterschool help
afterschool help
breadmaking
breadmaking
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Despite all the challenges, perhaps even because of them, we are happy with many of the accomplishments of the past year and are so looking forward to the opportunities that lie ahead. 

Our programming has altered with the changing needs of our community and we are awed by the support we have received from our loyal supporters. In the past year, we have:

  • Established a revolving fund to support the women who have been housed in the refuge to invest in independent living.
  • Restarted after-school programming (masked, socially distanced, and varying schedules) for the children most in need of support. We feel for all the children of Bolivia who are not served by internet or who do not have access to reliable technology to be able to learn from home. We are happy we are able to serve 40 children during this time.
  • Increased handcraft production, especially for the mothers who are not able to work outside due to Covid.
  • Increased production of vegetables and small farm animals to support nutrition and livelihoods.
  • Diversify our support to families in the community who may be at risk of losing their homes.
  • Provide social services to all of the families served by Foundation Ayllu.
  • Provide health care partnerships to benefit all the families in the community.
  • Restart the baking program to support tuition for our older youth and bread for the neighbors.
  • Celebrate the Birthdays of all the members of the Refugio Rafael community.
  • Build solidarity among the members of the community and the women who have lived in the Refugio.
  • Support career development for the oldest youth who are completing their high school years, including technical and professional programs.

We feel the reach of our programming expand, even as the reality of Covid has restricted our activities. We believe the impact of our work will begin to be realized in a wider geographic scope as women move out into independent living. We look forward to further developing economic and educational activities for all the members of our community as we transition out of lockdowns.

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There is no doubt 2020 was a year for facing challenges, pivoting, and learning about ourselves in ways no one anticipated. The same was true at our project, as for most of the year, we could not gather children together to learn, go out to regular work, or celebrate success in the larger community. Bolivia dealt with a major election as well as lockdowns and complete logistical shut down of movement of basic necessities. It was a year that called for resilience. 

While we had planned 2 groups of travelers to support our project in 2020, both groups had to cancel due to travel restrictions. Shortly after, Bolivia placed severe restrictions on the movement of people and goods, our after-school program had to close, and families in the refuge had to shelter in place. The families in the refuge counted on both support in the form of basic food items from the government, as well as support from Fundacion Ayllu to provide sustenance to the children and their mothers. Each of the 4 families in the refuge learned to count on the others as they turned to grow more of their food in the garden, and look to each other for help with continuing education, cooking, passing the time, and making more handcrafts.

The first silver lining in the pandemic year was found in that co-dependence. While living in close proximity and managing traumatic backgrounds is fertile ground for conflict among the families, the pandemic highlighted the ways that living together makes everyone better. Each mother put aside her judgments of the others, and the women took time to appreciate and support one another in ways that had not occurred before. 

The second silver lining was in that the Foundation had more time to focus on the goal for 2020 - helping each mother work towards her goal of living independently. Each mother completed an assessment of the steps needed for her individual situation and the Foundation set a plan in motion to support each of the mothers in her quest. The first success was for Guillermina who had to both complete a legal process and gain the support of the community to allow her to move into the family home that was lost when her husband died. Guillermina, with Foundation support, completed both of these tasks in August, and during a break between quarantines, she moved her family back to this family home. During the time she was not able to live there, the community also built a high school, and now the children will all be able to continue in this high school, now at or above their age level in school. We celebrated this great news with a short phone call, and cannot wait to visit Guillermina and the family in their home community.

Constantina, who gave birth to twins early in the year, has been supported by special help from the Foundation to find a living situation that will support her cognitive needs and help her develop the skills she needs to be able to raise her children. We expect her to move into a supported living situation in 2021.

Celia has been able to negotiate the payment of a loan to a family member that will help her complete the home she started to build. Celia will have access to a new fund started for the purpose of supporting mothers from trauma to independence. Juana also will benefit from this new program and fund, endowed by long time supporters of the project, and your donations. She will purchase a small plot of land near the refuge and build her home on this land.

While 2020 brought great suffering, we are proud that we have been able to set the foundation for the most important part of our programming - supporting women to construct their own independent living plan. We expect that in 2021 we will be able to host new single-parent families and support them in their own quest to improve their children's health, education, and to develop their own plans to thrive again. We also look forward to restarting after school programming and to growing the small businesses, particularly handcraft sales, that grew in 2020.

making crafts
making crafts
Juana knitting
Juana knitting
handcrafts
handcrafts
Constantina with twins
Constantina with twins
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What a challenging time 2020 has been for all of us. As we learn to shift gears, hunker down in isolation, and dream of the future, we also try to take time to measure our successes.

At the beginning of 2020, we started to plan for the mamas living in Refugio Rafael and to think of ways we could support them through their various paths to independent living. This is our primary purpose for the refugio and sometimes the obstacles to this goal feel very large.

At the beginning of the pandemic, we learned that sometimes terrible obstacles and challenges are what bring us together. During the various lockdown periods, the women living in the Refugio learned to lean on each other and to support one another in ways they had not before. Though we mourned the loss of our trip to visit Bolivia, with 2 groups totaling more than 30 people having to cancel, we really did see the silver lining of Covid in the ways the women of the Refugio came together.

As the pandemic stretches on, a somewhat surprising development for one of the mothers, Guillermina, led to an even more exciting development in the prince. After many months of supporting Guillermina to gain legal control of her deceased husband's property, legal and customary rights to the land and house were restored and she was able to move to the place that was truly the family home.

we know this development will support and encourage the other mothers in their quest to own their own property and home. We continue to work with each of them on their own obstacles and challenges and are reminded that even in the toughest times, it is our friendships, families  and community that keep us afloat, hoping and dreaming. We are so grateful for those opportunities.

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Sharing a meal
Sharing a meal

Our current state of the world due to the Covid-19 pandemic has had deep consequences in Bolivia, particularly for the most vulnerable populations like those we serve at Refugio Rafael and through Ayllu Foundation. After experiencing challenging circumstances during the political upheaval in late 2019, the pandemic and required stay at home measures have affected all the families and children we serve.

The after school programming has been closed for now, due to social distancing requirements. The government is looking for ways to support students through printing materials for parents to guide children through. This is an issue for our community because the children mostly surpass their parents in their level of education, so older siblings may be the only ones to help younger siblings, but there is no one to help the older ones. There have also been some suggestions of online resources, but most of our community does not have either computers or an internet connection in the home. We expect the need for educational support to be very big when classes return to normal and we hope to have extra resources in place at that time.

The families in the shelter portion of our project are sheltering together, supporting one another and all 4 mothers are at home as lockdown measures do not allow for them to work. While the income is important, we have been able to redirect resources to support the nutritional eating for the families and continue to support their activities of growing food at the site. While difficult, the women and families are learning to lean on one another more than ever and are creating a stronger sense of community among one other. These silver linings are those we look to for hope in times of trouble.

As Bolivia has extended the stay at home order, we look to intensify our focus on handcraft development and breadmaking that we might perfect our skills and provide more opportunities for income generation once the pandemic has passed. Please look for the handcrafted products once they are rolled out on our partner website.

Finally, the Board of the Foundation has met virtually in order to plan collectively for the next steps for growth and support of the projects. We have agreed to work on securing funding to support the purchase of land and simple home construction for the families in the refuge and to create a path to independence for them in our next stage of development. 

Your support is vital and we so appreciate your interest in our work, your financial support, your plans for future visits, and all your correspondence. We know we are not alone and give you virtual hugs in hopes of real ones to come in the not so distant future.

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Organization Information

Global Gallery, Inc.

Location: Columbus, OH - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @GlobalGallery
Project Leader:
Connie De Jong
Columbus, OH United States
$14,109 raised of $15,000 goal
 
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