In the heart of Bolivia
Ushpa Ushpa was for a long time an illegal settlement on the outskirts of the city of Cochabamba in central Bolivia. As is often the case in South America, the area was eventually integrated into the city, but this did not mean an immediate connection to the infrastructure. Today, there is indeed public transport and the main road has been asphalted, but there is still hardly any connection to the water supply of the city. When we pick up children from a neighbouring school at noon, our way leads over gravelled roads, past partly tiny houses without windows and over a dried out brook without a bridge.
What sounds like the beginning of a sad drama is in reality a place full of joy of life. From everywhere there are joyful shouts of “Profe, Profe” (the salutation for educators and teachers), the picked up children climb over stones, play catch and tell each other the latest stories of dragons and fairies. Ushpa Ushpa is not a place of desolation, it is a place full of children, loving families and street vendors sitting together for morning gossip.
So what are we doing here? A family, no matter how loving, does not help when the mother sells flowers at the market from dawn until late at night and the father is looking for work at the centre. It does not help when one parent has left the family to seek better fortune elsewhere. And parents full of good intentions can always become a great burden when stress, desperation and helplessness take over. This situation often results in victims of domestic violence, early school leavers and drug addicts.
We would like best to give each child two parents with permanent jobs who come home in the afternoon and take care of them. Since this is not in our power, we do our best to at least give them the possibility of a safe place to grow up. With us the children can play, learn and grow up without worries of violence or lack of money. It is also very important to us to have an open ear for everyone. If we hear about problems, we offer help and, for example, make house calls or invite the parents to visit us. If anyone wants to talk to us, you can be sure that we won’t laugh at him or her, won’t tell on him or her and take the problems seriously.
In short: We replace what is missing due to the circumstances for a good education.
“the children climb over stones, play catch and tell each other the latest stories”
“there is still hardly any connection to the water supply of the city“