July 2020 News & Updates

We hope that everyone had a safe and fun July 4th Holiday! I’m sure that it went too quickly; they always do.

Here are some updates from over the past month:

  • Tamaulipas – we are continuing to scope and develop the potential projects in Tamaulipas; Northern Mexico. So far, these are promising projects, and conversations are on-going with various state officials.
  • Rotary Clubs – we have expanded our efforts and activities with Rotary Clubs all throughout the Western Hemisphere. Not only are we working with Rotary Clubs in Summit County and Bolivia, but now with groups in Southern Texas and Northern Mexico. These new connections will definitely help us with our efforts in Tamaulipas.
  • Fundraising – as we mention each month, this is an on-going effort for the Pidola Team. We have a few grant submissions coming up here in the month of July, and we’re always on the lookout for future opportunities!
  • College Internship – we are pleased and proud to have our first intern working with Pidola! She is a student at the University of Oregon, who will be assisting us with our grant writing and subsequent submissions.

As always, thank you for your support, and we’ll see you next month!

June 2020 News & Updates

Hopefully this note finds everyone doing well… and that you’ve started to enjoy your summers! Personally, some camping and hiking may be in my near future… 🙂

Here are some updates from over the past month:

  • Tamaulipas – we had a very good call with some government folks down in the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico. We’re still working our way through the various levels of bureaucracy, and will keep everyone posted with our progress.
  • Fundraising – these efforts continue on almost a daily basis, and we’re working on various grants and sponsorships. For example, one of the latest opportunities that we’re working is the Amazon Emergency Fund. Plus, others such as the Oak Foundation, the Lawrence Foundation and the Wallace Global Fund II. Wish us luck!
  • Bolivia-based Efforts – as you may have heard, our friends and partners in Bolivia are still very much in lock-down due to Covid-19. Efforts have slowed, specifically around taxes and corporate formation. But we’ll continue to push those activities forward, all the while wishing our friends in Bolivia good health.
  • Summer BBQ – the Pidola Team is working on a little BBQ here in Summit County later in June for our Board of Directors. It’s been a while since we’ve been able to connect with them in person, and we’re excited for some face-time!

As always, thank you for your support, and we’ll see you next month!

May 2020 News & Updates

First and foremost, we hope that this post finds everyone doing well! Things are slowly opening up here in Colorado, and we hope similar situations are happening where you live… hang in there!

Here are some updates from over the last few weeks:

  • Fundraising – we are retaining one of our key partners; Santa Cruz Grants & Consulting. They have been very helpful with developing and submitting various grants for our fundraising campaigns, and are a critical component for these on-going efforts.
  • Rotary Club Tunari – you may remember that we have partnered with the local Rotary Club here in Summit County (CO) late in 2019. We are also working to develop partnerships with other Rotary Clubs in Bolivia; specifically in Cochabamba. These are budding relationships, so more to follow in the coming weeks.
  • Tamaulipas – we have made a significant connection with local government officials in the State of Tamaulipas, in Mexico. The Pidola Team has a conference call with them on May 19th to determine if our resources would be a good fit.
  • Sister Schools – another initiative that we’re engaged in, is to determine if there is a school in the US that would be able to coordinate activities with a school in Bolivia. Especially since many schools have now moved classes into the home. Activities like cultural education and/or language education.

As always, thank you for your support, and we’ll see you next month!

April 2020 News & Updates

Well, a lot has changed since we last connected. First and most importantly, the Pidola Team hopes this post finds you & your family doing well. We’ve got this. 🙂

Here are a some updates over the last few weeks:

  • Fundraising – as with every month, this is our most critical effort. We’re still working with our consultants to generate proposals and submit grants, and we’ll share the good news when it comes in!
  • COVID-19 in Bolivia – we always take the time to speak with our connections in Bolivia, and read the news to keep updated with what’s happening there. I would recommend visiting La Razon, which is one of the country’s largest newspapers. If you’re not able to read Spanish, no worries! Put this link into Google Chrome, and utilize Chrome’s translator to read the articles.
  • Pidola’s Facebook – if you haven’t already, please make sure you “Like” Pidola on Facebook! We’re going to be running more Facebook campaigns, and your likes are important for those activities.
  • 2019 Tax Reporting – if you generously donated to Pidola in 2019, you should have received an email thanking you with our EIN and the amount you donated. If you didn’t or can’t find it, please contact Michelle directly at mzimmerman@pidola.org for a new email/letter.

As always, thank you for your support, and stay safe and healthy!

In Colorado, USA

My first week back to the US has been interesting.  I’ve lived here most of my life, I know the routine, I know the area (Colorado), but it still all feels so strange!  I guess this is part of my re-assimilation from being out of the country for the last 13 months or so.  Two things got me these first few days: the grocery store and radio advertisements.  Both, in my humble opinion, are pretty absurd. 

Colorado mountain called Capitol

Even though I’m back in the States, we’re still doing work down in Bolivia.  The biggest and most exciting updates are from one of our site visits in Villa Tunari back in April.  Our solar panel installers visited La Mision last week and are developing a final budget and specification report for us.  Once that’s completed, we’ll just need to raise the funds to start and complete the project!

Another area of excitement, at least for me, is from a location we visited last week; Carmen Florida near Rurrenabaque.  They are celebrating their 85th anniversary this weekend of being a community!  Pidola donated some food supplies, new soccer balls and supplies for their school house to help them celebrate.  If and when we get some photos, we’ll surely share with you.

As we mentioned last week, our up-coming event on the 25th is confirmed at Diebolt Brewery here in Denver.  We hope that you can join us, and I personally would love to see everyone!

In Rurrenabaque

Well, I just finished my last two site visits before heading back Stateside.  And I think these last two were both my favorites, and potentially the best candidates for Pidola.  From La Paz, I flew to a town called Rurrenabaque (aka Rurre).  Rurre is vastly different than La Paz.  While you’re still in Bolivia, you’re going from the high Andian Mountains to the Amazon River Basin.  Temperature, altitude, and culture are different between these two areas! Similar political conversations can be found in both, though.

Our first location we visited was a village called Carmen Florida, which is about a 40-minute boat ride from the town of Rurre.  The community is small, with only about 13 school children and about 100 people total in the village.  But, they would love both power and internet for their school room and would drastically help their educational resources.  We had good conversations with the community leaders, started building those all-important relationships, and even started planning for their anniversary party in mid-July… Carmen Florida will be 85 years old!

School room in Carmen Florida
Carmen Florida’s meeting building
Had some Pacu (Piranha) for lunch!

The second community we visited during our trip to Rurrenabaque is called Torewa.  This was a 2.5-hour boat ride from Rurre, with a 30-minute hike to the village.  As with our pilot project Pampa Jasi, this village is very remote.  It’s so remote, and so prone to being flooded by the Beni River, that the local government doesn’t even acknowledge the community exists. There are 45 school-aged children and over 50 families that would love Pidola’s assistance.  They specifically spoke about improved healthcare and avenues of communication that our resources could provide.  Amazing place, amazing people.

Welcome to Torewa!
On our way to Torewa
School buildings in Torewa

Keep an eye out for your July 25thinvite to Diebolt Brewery for a Pidola happy hour; I would love to see everyone!  

In Santa Cruz

It’s been a very busy, but a good week here in Bolivia.  As I’ve been mentioning over the last few updates, Pidola (aka Accendo) had been invited to a July 4th event in Santa Cruz, which was hosted by the US Embassy/State Department.  This event not only celebrated the July 4th Holiday, it was also a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the moon landing.  So, double the drinks!

Pidola sponsored this event, which not only got us an invite to the party, but we also increased our exposure with the Accendo logo presented in a number of different places.  Note, our non-profit entity in the US is Pidola, but we also have an entity (company) here in Bolivia called Accendo.  This allows us to operate and get business completed here… hence, why you see Accendo instead of Pidola.

Bird’s eye view of the presentation area
Accendo’s banner right near the event entrance
Accendo on the big screen!

We did some networking as well, and we met a ton of great people from all over.  Not only folks from the Embassy, but other partners and people affiliated with the State Department.  That was one of our main goals; to network and potentially find some new sponsors.  Hopefully the people we met, and the conversations we had, will become fruitful in the future!

We also took part in Habitat for Humanity the morning before the event. I definitely didn’t mind getting my hands dirty. 🙂

Building bathrooms for new houses

This week will be just as busy, with a trip to Rurrenabaque to visit two new site locations: Torewa Campesina and Corte (in the Department of Beni).  It’s always good to build our list communities where Pidola’s resources may be a good fit.  We’re also sending our contractors to La Mision to continue specification work, which will lead to the development of our final project plan.

Fingers crossed for a safe trip to Rurrenabaque, and I’ll keep everyone posted with our progress!

In El Alto

It was another morning that I was up painfully early.  So I figured I would go to El Alto, the sister city of La Paz, and see the sunrise before work got started.  Plus, for one of the larger indigenous groups here in Bolivia, the Aymara, June 21st is their New Year.  Many will go to different spiritual locations (i.e. Tiwanaku) all throughout the country for the sunrise, for the Winter Solstice.  As you can see, it was a crisp, clear morning… the chickens and I were the only ones up!

Huayna Potosi with some alpenglow
A few chickens looking for breakfast
Some Aymara enjoying the sunrise

This week was primarily a preparation week for Pidola.  The first event we’re preparing for is our US Embassy/July 4th event in Santa Cruz.  As I mentioned last week, we received our formal invite for next weekend’s activities.  I say activities since there’s not only the networking event, but Pidola was also invited to sponsor and participate in the Habitat for Humanity efforts the morning before!  We gladly accepted… and lots of pictures to follow.

The second event over the next few weeks is another trip back into the jungle.  On July 3rd, I’ll be traveling to Rurrenabaque (aka Rurre) to visit two more site locations.  These locations were generated from the trip with my brother to Madidi, where our guide mentioned he may have some ideal project locations for Pidola.  It will be a three-hour boat trip to get there!  Yes, more pictures will be taken.

The last “larger” effort we’re preparing for is our event in Colorado during the month of July.  It was originally planned for July 11th, but we’re changing this date to either July 22nd or July 25th.  Formal notices will be shared with everyone once the day and venue are finalized.  I’m personally excited since it will be great to see people I haven’t seen in over a year.

Whenever you read this post, we hope it finds you doing well!  More to come next week.

In El Prado

This was the first week in almost six that I spent the entire time in La Paz!  It was nice for the routine, but it’s always a grind getting back into the swing of things.  I spent most of the time in an area of La Paz called El Prado, which translates into “The Meadow”.  It’s essentially the area of town with most of the main commercial buildings; the down-town, if you will.  There are plenty of zebras to help you across the busy streets!

When spending time in El Prado, I usually have lots of in-person meetings.  The Ministry of Education is there, the school where I take my Spanish classes is nearby, our bank we use (BNB), etc.  This week, the key meeting was with the US Embassy.  I will say it’s always nice (and less pressure!) to simply speak in English.  

Pidola received our formal invite to the Embassy event in Santa Cruz, which allows US-based multi-national companies with a presence in Bolivia, to celebrate the July 4th Holiday.  Little ole Pidola will be there to network and hopefully make some strong donor/sponsor connections.  Fingers crossed that yours truly can make it work!

Other highlights from this week:

  • We’ve made arrangements to return to a town called Rurrenabaque, and to visit a couple new, potential project locations.  That will happen early July
  • We had our monthly Board of Directors meeting on the 12th, which as you know, is always productive.  This month our focus was mainly on fundraising
  • Our project budget framework for La Mision is being developed; we’re getting close. The project plan will be developed shortly thereafter
  • Our July 11th event back in Denver is coming together.  Please watch your inboxes for your invite!

We have a lot going on in July, so the planning and preparation efforts are well underway.  As always, I’ll share updates next week; have a nice weekend!

In Madidi, Tiwanaku & Sajama

Well, it’s been a whirlwind the last few weeks with Vegas, Colorado, Utah, and then the last couple. Many of you know that one of my brothers came down to Bolivia to visit for about 10 days.  We had a great time visiting the rainforest (Madidi), some old ruins (Tiwanaku) and some mountains (Sajama).  All of these places I had never visited, so it was great to see other places in the country. We packed a lot in, in just a short period of time!

Larry and I in Madidi, with our guide Raul
An old statue at the ruins of Tiwanku
Sajama, the highest mountain in Bolivia

Now that the travel is winding down, we’re back to the grind.  One of the bi-products of traveling in Bolivia, is speaking about Pidola with Bolivians.  We actually may have found another site that our resources would be aligned with their needs!  The community is called Torewa Campesina, and it’s deep in the Bolivia rainforest; about an hour boat-ride from Rurrenabaque, the closest city.  More to follow on this…

Other than the new potential site, we’re focusing on the following:

  • We’re getting closer with finalizing the budget for La Mision, which will directly affect our fundraising plans this summer.  
  • I’m working on getting Pidola’s invite to a July 4th event here in Santa Cruz, which is thrown by the US Embassy out of La Paz.  Should be a good networking event.
  • The “Accendo Summit” is being planned as well, which will bring our Bolivian partners (Ministry of Education, ABE, FH) together to see how our efforts can align better.
  • We’re also working on an event, in Denver, on July 11th.  We’ll share more on this when we get into the middle of June.

That’s it for now. More to come in the next few weeks, and we hope this post finds everyone well!