We had a chance to visit our next potential project locations earlier this week. It was very exciting to continue to build on the progress we’ve made over the last six (6) months! And personally, it was an interesting change of scenery for me going from La Paz to a town called Villa Tunari… which is effectively within the Amazon River Basin. Holy Toledo, it was hot!
The trip started with an early morning wake-up call, and a couple hours’ drive from Cochabamba to Villa Tunari. It’s a beautiful drive, and I would recommend it (or something similar) to any visitor to Bolivia. We arrived mid-morning and started our search for about a dozen different schools in the area.
Using information we were provided by the Ministry of Education, we located nine (9) of the 12 schools (i.e. educational units) near Villa Tunari. These schools varied in size, having anywhere between 10-500 kids in each school. I’ve included some pictures below of a couple of them. Unfortunately, all schools in Bolivia are on their Christmas and Summer Breaks, so they’re closed until early February.
For a peek behind the curtain, our trips entail a lot of data gathering. Typically, we prefer to speak with the community leaders to start project conversations. But with this specific trip, our information gathering only included, but was not limited to:
- Using latitude and longitude coordinates, we have to actually FIND the school… easier said than done. One of the schools from our list is a two (2) day boat ride to get there
- Gathering information surrounding the structures (how sound is the roof, which way the roof is facing, etc.)
- Proximity of the school to a paved road, banks, and other economic indicators
- Determining power requirements for each location, and other community challenges that our projects may help solve
- As always, determine next steps and the correct people to continue our conversation surrounding our projects
We have over 180 potential schoolhouse projects just in the Villa Tunari municipality alone, so this is just the start. Of course, I’ll keep everyone posted in the coming weeks.