Sustainable social initiatives change lives forever and the visionary people who create these incredible projects that grow and impact the fortune of an existing community are who inspire me the most.
There isn’t a more perfect example of this than what the Proyecto Horizonte organization is developing in the small town of Ushpa-Ushpa just outside the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia.
Thanks to a connection made by friend and fellow traveler, Kiersten, we had the opportunity to visit Ushpa-Ushpa and work with Proyecto Horizonte for a few days to learn about all the amazing things they were providing for this community.
Home to approximately 1,500 families, Ushpa-Ushpa was established by former miners in August of 2001 who migrated to Cochabamba in search of brighter prospects. Beginning as an illegal settlement outside Cochabamba, the community eventually grew to be recognized as part of the neighboring city even though it lacked any infrastructure for the supply of basic utilities.
Ushpa-Ushpa has been a community faced with very difficult social, economical, educational and medical conditions, which unfortunately, is an all-to-familiar occurrence in Bolivia.
Enter a local charitable organization called Sociedad San Vicente de Paúl (which became Proyecto Horizonte) and a young Swiss traveler called Christian Ruehmer. Together they recognized the incredible lack of fundamental resources available to Ushpa-Ushpa and set out to make a difference.
In 2004, Christian met with the local organization and worked together planning and constructing the first kindergarten in town. By December 2004, the first 100 children began classes in the new 4500 square foot building!
While this would be a great accomplishment in itself, less than 6 months after the kindergarten opened, Christian and the Proyecto Horizonte organization set out to expand the facilities with a new health care center and school.
Today there are 150 children between the ages of 1 to 6 years attending the 5 levels of the “Education Initial,” and a daycare program and a recently inaugurated school has 600 children between the ages of 6 to 14 years in attendance.
During the evening hours, a school program for adults is also provided as well as the development of community outreach programs such as sports clinics, sex education and counseling.
Proyecto Horizonte has also leveraged relationships with other NGOs to improve the organization’s sustainability. For example, the Orphaned Starfish Foundation works with orphans and disadvantaged children throughout Latin America and built a computer center at the school, while Save the Children supplied curriculum for computer classes and teacher training resources.
It is truly inspiring to see how the organization is changing the lives and standard of living within this small community outside Cochabamba.
It takes just a few people with great ambition, perseverance and direction to change the world and it makes me think about how I can impact the lives of others through my actions and initiatives.
Is this something you’ve ever thought about?
Traveling to Bolivia? Consider volunteering with Proyecto Horizonte!