Scenes from Rural Bolivia

Breakfast Time in rural Bolivia

The boys in San Pedro enjoying their breakfast

Rural Bolivia

Pantipampa

A Tub with a View

A tub with a view outside Cochabamba

Portrait of a local Bolivian Man

A hitchhiker we picked up outside Mizque

Bolivian girls in traditional clothes

The girls in their traditional outfits

It was a year ago that I was flying down to Bolivia to volunteer with Niños con Valor – yet I’ve written very few posts about my time there. I’ve said before that volunteering did more for me than I feel I did for them; and that’s just my dilemma.

During my time in Bolivia I played games with children who were either parentless or whose parents had handed them over as they were not in a position to look after them, I visited orphanages run by nuns and government homes for disabled children, I met a family of five who lived in a one bedroom shack and visited a grandma who could barely walk yet supported her grandchildren by selling flowers at the market – needless to say, we bought all her flowers that day.

But the one day I particularly look back on is the one I spent in a remote village several hours outside of Mizque. The volunteers and I came to this town bearing non perishable goods to offset the effects of a drought, and school supplies and toys for the children. It was an adventure filled day with games and laughter under the sun, but one girl’s story changed it all reminding me of the hardships she and those around her face.

As we were handing out gifts to the children, a young girl of fourteen patiently stood in line to pick out a toy for her baby brother in arms. She caught one of the volunteer’s attention when she then got in line with the other girls to choose a toy for herself – a doll. The two got talking, and I later learned that the child she’d been holding wasn’t her brother, but her son. My heart sank. Here was a girl who still wanted to play with dolls, yet she was already responsible for another life at such an early age. And she was one among many. I met other girls that day – younger than me, and younger than my sisters – girls barely outside their teens who already had a full household.

It left me wanting to help but feeling utterly helpless. Every child has the right to a childhood (and an education for that matter), but as I looked around me I began to realize that this wasn’t the case.

I think about the girls in this village often; this one day shaped what I want to do more than I ever thought it would.

7 Comments

  • Abhijit says:

    A very touching post. Thanks.

  • Stephanie - The Travel Chica says:

    What an experience.

  • Elizabeth Bird says:

    Beautiful Photos! I really like the on the of hitchhiker.

  • Gaby says:

    What a beautiful experience. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  • Tawny- Captain and Clark says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! Bolivia is my favorite country that I’ve been to. It’s so diverse and beautiful. I can’t wait to return!

  • Shannon says:

    wow thanks for sharing this. i felt the same way when i was volunteering in Rwanda. the stories you hear from those you meet are often heartbreaking. part of me thinks that is a part of life that everyone in the western world needs to experience in order to appreciate what we have: our homes, our heath, our education and our rights and opportunities.

  • Brigid says:

    Gorgeous pictures Audrey, you captured rural Bolivia beautifully. I too volunteered in Bolivia. My time was spent with the working children of Sucre and it was just heartbreaking to see so many kids not getting to experience a childhood. I very much hope there are better times ahead for the indigenous people of Bolivia.

    Great post and am looking forward to reading more on Bolivia 🙂
    Brigid recently posted..Rap Battle in Parque BolivarMy Profile

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