Children's ministry launch at BO0478
Helping children in Bolivia build a future free from poverty
Mercedario is a semi-rural community of about 4,000 people in the city of El Alto where many children are growing up in extreme poverty. Most caregivers eke out a living in low-paying jobs as street vendors or animal herders, but 40 per cent of the population is unemployed. Parents are hardworking, but with limited employment opportunities in the community, they struggle to provide for their families’ most basic needs.
The greater El Alto area is home to nearly 950,000 people and is one of Latin America’s fastest-growing urban centres. However, rapid population growth has left the city struggling to provide basic services to many of its citizens. Most homes lack access to running water, electricity or proper sanitation. This means children are vulnerable to hygiene-related illnesses, which causes them to miss school frequently. During the shift to virtual learning during the pandemic, children without Internet access or computers at home faced new barriers to their education. Many ended up dropping out of school entirely.
Many children in Mercedario are growing up in spiritual poverty, too. While the community is predominantly Catholic, most families practise a mixture of Catholicism and traditional paganism. It is common for children to be left alone while their parents are at work, leaving them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Without intervention, they stand little chance of breaking free from poverty.
With your support, Compassion partnered with the Evangelical Church of Bolivia “Jesus es la Verdad” to launch a new holistic child development program in Mercedario. Your financial gift enabled the church to purchase equipment, furnishings and supplies, a computer and printer, tables and chairs and games and sports equipment for children to enjoy on centre days.
Registered children can now receive regular medical checkups and will be able to access timely treatment when they get sick. They are learning how to practise good personal hygiene and have been provided with toothbrushes and toothpaste so they can take care of their teeth. We are also providing children with school supplies, tutoring support and educational workshops, ensuring they can stay in school and pursue their God-given dreams.
The church is working with children and parents to raise awareness about child abuse and exploitation and have also begun running entrepreneurship classes to help families start small businesses. They are taking every opportunity they can to share the gospel, and many families have already started attending church each week.
Medical checkups: A medical doctor offers regular health checkups to each of the children to monitor for malnutrition and other illnesses. Since families cannot afford health care for their children, they are truly grateful.
Spiritual disciplines: Children are also learning spiritual disciplines such as prayer and they share in devotional time, where they study passages of the Bible.
Hygiene and nutritious meals: On centre days, children now enjoy nutritious, protein-rich meals that will contribute to their growth and physical health. Children have also learned good hygiene habits and brush their teeth after meals at the centre.
Child protection: Children have learned about child protection at the Compassion centre. They made a mural about child abuse and children’s rights.
Learning through play: Children are developing their cognitive abilities as they play various didactic games and participate in recreational activities such as colouring, drawing and completing puzzles. They also enjoy playing together outside and are learning to form healthy friendships.
Curriculum activities: At the centre, children learn that they are unique and special. They also receive school materials to support their education.
Your Gift Provides...
• Centre staffing
○ Staff recruitment and training
• Child registration and caregiver orientation
○ Initial caregiver meeting
• Administrative equipment and supplies
○ Office computer and printer
○ Office filing cabinets and shelves
○ Office desk and chairs
• Classroom furnishing and supplies
○ Tables, chairs, cabinets, closets
○ Games and minor sports equipment
• Health checkups and supplies
○ Height and weight measurement tools
ReportA message from a pastor
It is a pleasure to greet you in the love of our Lord Jesus Christ. May God bless your life from above and fill your life and that of your family with blessings. I am Pastor Gustavo. I am very grateful to you for the support you gave us for the new child development centre. Your help was a great blessing for the children, families, the congregation and the community in general.
In these last months, as a congregation we have been teaching the Word of God to the children and their families. We also taught them the Christian principles and values that they should have and thus be obedient to the Lord. For this purpose, we use the didactic resources that were purchased with the equipment for the centre—a desk, computers, metal shelves, wooden bookcases, board games, Bibles for Bible study, scales, stadiometers, cell phone and printer—to strengthen the cognitive, physical, spiritual and socio-emotional development of our dear and beloved children. To date, 100 per cent of the funds received have been executed. All our daily activities are focused on achieving comprehensive development in the lives of each of our participants.
We are sharing the Word of God through church activities such as evangelistic campaigns through Sunday schools for children, camps, sports championships, exhibition fairs and visits to the children’s homes. Our task as a church is to evangelize and expand the kingdom of God and to win lives for the Lord. Little by little, the families are becoming active members within the congregation, and the children are also participating in Sunday school programs.
Thanks to the support you provided, the church is already recognized in the community. It is a point of reference for those families who need help, both spiritually and materially. The impact is so great that they are conducting entrepreneurship training for families, where they learn to generate their own income. Many of our moms already have their own business, thanks to the training given by the congregation. They are very grateful and hope to be given more training, because they see it as an opportunity to get ahead. Today the church is considered an institution of social good for our neighbours. The church strives so that our support not only reaches our program participants but also benefits the children and families of the community.
Our vision as a church is to be a solid church that worships God, that serves its neighbour, growing in number of members committed to God and forming different ministries with children and families that praise and worship God.
We ask you in the love of the Lord to support us with your prayers so that we can reach all the parents in the area with the Word of God and thus fulfill the great commission entrusted to us by the Lord. With these few words of thanks, I bid you farewell with affection and appreciation. May the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ accompany and bless you and your family.
With gratitude, affection and appreciation, your brother in Christ,
ReportA message from a partnership facilitator
My name is Jonathan and I am a partnership facilitator for the BO0478 centre. It is a pleasure to be able to talk to you through this letter and thank you for the support you are giving to the Bolivian Evangelical Church of God “Jesus es la Verdad.”
The pastors and leaders of the congregation are also very grateful for your trust and hope to be able to support several children in the community of Mercedario. Since the church opened, we have all been in prayer to begin the work as a partner of Compassion. The activities that are being carried out with the families of the community include times of evangelism so that they know more about our heavenly Father, and as a result of this, they have already begun to attend the services that the church offers on Sundays. The children constantly attend the centre to receive school support with the tutors, and together with this they are being taught about the Word of God through dynamic activities. The members of the congregation also organized happy hours to gather the children of the community on weekends and help them understand what the guidelines of the church are.
We believe that the leadership will respond positively in this society and that we can develop children and youth who worship our Lord.
All of us in the community and the congregation are grateful for the support you have given us to start our activities as partners. We are sure that God will bless your lives more and more each day.
ReportThank you for your generosity
The new Compassion centre in Mercedario is already making a difference. Because of you, 177 children are receiving the support they will need to break free from the destructive cycle of poverty. They are so excited to come to the centre each week where they can play, enjoy nutritious meals, make new friends and learn about the love of Jesus.
With the care and guidance of loving Christian adults, children are learning about their worth and value in God’s eyes and that they have each been created for a unique and special purpose. The centre is quickly becoming a beacon of hope in the community—a safe and loving environment where children are seen, heard and valued.
Your generosity has equipped and empowered the local church to extend the reach of the gospel in their community, and they are taking every opportunity they can to share the good news of Jesus with children and their families. Each week, more and more families show up for Sunday services at the church, where they hear about the transforming love of Christ. In the months and years to come, many more lives will be radically changed because of your investment. Thank you for supporting this new ministry launch and making a way for children in Mercedario to leave poverty behind!