Monday, 21 April 2014


As you can see the barley sprouting is a hit with our horses. We just need a bit more work and money and the seed room is done! In the meantime a photo taken by Dominique a volunteer form Switzerland (yes he is a banker!)who has been helping out the last few weeks.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013


I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered people have torn down, other-centered people can build up --Martin Luther King

Thursday, 4 April 2013


Vida means life..Esperanza means hope. These words mean a lot to a small group of kids whose life's have, to date, had little of either. When I was a kid I lived on the back of a horse. I rode my pony, Riot, and then my horse, Dylan (yup named after Bob!)over hill and dale and also in the show ring. Mostly what I loved was the horse, their companionship, their oaty breath on my tears, their understanding snorts and foot stomping and the way they not only galloped over fences but also provided the best place to lie and watch the clouds. In short they were AWESOME!!! Now as the mother of a troubled young girl I once again found out about the awesomeness of horses and their ability to heal a broken hearts, guide a lost child and provide a sense of peace in our crazy world. Horses as a therapeutic tool for troubled youth or Vida y Esperanza! We met Jose Luis Torres and his family and his hard working horses (see photo) when my daughter's problems become too big for just me. Since then we have laughed with them, cried with them and become part of their amazing world. This fall while we were living in the US for a spell my good friend Sandy who I rode horses with when we were kids convinced her daughter Abby (24) to come to Bolivia and work with Jose Luis and los chicos. Abby arrived in February and she has been working hard ever since. The outcome of her volunteer time is many faceted so please take the time to check out VIDA Y ESPERANZA BLOG and give a hand if you can.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Volunteer Bolivia featured in Volunteer Vacations

We are very happy to be feature in their newest version of volunteer Vacations!!! You may recall that we corresponded with you last year regarding your organization's entry in the 11th edition of Volunteer Vacations, published by Chicago Review Press. We're pleased to tell you that this book is now available, and we think you will be pleased with your entry! We'd appreciate any help you could give us in getting word about this book out. As a reminder, there is no charge to you to be included in our book, so we depend on sales to generate all of our revenue. Please help us prove that this model works by letting your volunteers know about our book! Thank you for your cooperation as we worked to get this edition to print. Our usual publication timeline is every three years, so look for emails from us in 2014 as we work on the next edition to be published in 2015. You might also be interested in the new book The Voluntourist, by Ken Budd. Ken used our book to identify six organizations - Cross-Cultural Solutions, Earthwatch, Global Volunteers, Rebuilding Together, Travellers Worldwide, and Volunteers for Peace - that helped him volunteer around the world. It's a terrific and honest narrative of what it was like for him to work in New Orleans, Costa Rica, China, Ecuador, Palestine, and Kenya. We deeply appreciate your cooperation and assistance to help us make this book as accurate and helpful for our readers as possible. We hope that its publication brings you many new volunteers! Best, Doug Cutchins & Anne Geissinger co-authors, Volunteer Vacations: Short Term Adventures That Will Benefit You and Others

Thursday, 16 December 2010

The Arrogrance of Cancun

Climate change is on many people's minds these days and countless articles are written on the subject. A friend of mine posted on Facebook one that is worth reading. The Arrogance of Cancun by Gustavo Esteva is about what really happened, or more accurately, really didnt happen in Cancun last week.

Read it and let us know what you think.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010


Several years ago a young man named Ben Dangl stopped by La Republika Cafe to toss down a beer and ask for some information. Soon he and his partner April Howard become regular fixtures in Bolivia.

The result of their time in Bolivia is reflected in his well known web site Upside Down World a great source of alternative news on all of Latin America.

He also wrote two books. The first is called The Price of Fire: Resources Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia and is a series of essays on Bolivia (AK Press, 2007) and a worthy read.

The second book was released in the past couple of months and is called Dancing with Dynamite-Social Movements and States in Latin American and is getting rave reviews.

Congratulations Ben, we look forward to your next visit!!!

Thursday, 29 July 2010


By: Eduardo Galeano

A gigantic gas explosion: This was the popular uprising that shook all of Bolivia and culminated in the resignation of President Sanchez de Lozada, who fled, leaving behind him a trail of corpses.

The gas was to have been shipped to California--for a minuscule price in exchange for a few miserable gifts--across Chilean land that used to be part of Bolivia. This last detail was just salt in the wound for a country that for more than a century has been demanding, in vain, restoration of the sea access it lost in 1883 in the war that Chile won.
But the route of the gas was not the primary cause of the fury that erupted throughout the country. There was another, which the government responded to with bullets, as is its custom, leaving the streets strewn with dead. The people rose up because they refused to allow to happen with gas what had previously happened with silver, saltpeter, tin, and everything else.

In 1870, an English diplomat in Bolivia was the victim of a disagreeable incident. Dictator Mariano Melgarejo offered him a glass of chicha, the national drink made from fermented corn. The Englishman thanked him but said he preferred chocolate. So Melgarejo, with his customary delicacy, made him drink an enormous vat of chocolate and then paraded him on a mule, seated backwards, through the streets of La Paz. When Queen Victoria, in London, heard of the incident, she had a map brought to her and pronounced ''Bolivia doesn't exist,'' crossing out the country with a chalk "X."

I'd heard this tale many times. It may or may not have happened exactly this way. But this phrase, attributed to British imperial arrogance, could also be read as an involuntary synthesis of the tormented history of the Bolivian people. The tragedy repeats itself like a revolving wheel: For five centuries, the fabulous riches of Bolivia have been a curse to the people, who are the poorest of South America's poor. Indeed, for its own people, ''Bolivia doesn't exist."

For over two centuries, back in colonial times, the silver of Potosí was the primary nourishment of the capitalist development of Europe. ''It's worth a Potosí'' meant something was priceless.

Midway through the sixteenth century, the most populous, most expensive, and most spendthrift city in the world sprouted and grew on the foot of the mountain that oozed silver. This mountain, called Cerro Rico, swallowed Indians. ''The streets are thronged with people,'' wrote a rich miner from Potosí: Entire communities were emptied of men, marched as prisoners from every direction to the opening into the mines. Outside, it was freezing. Inside, it was hell. Only three of every ten men led in left alive. But these short-lived inhabitants of the mines generated the fortunes of Flemish, German, and Genovese bankers, creditors of the Spanish crown. It was these Indians who made possible the accumulation of capital that transformed Europe into what it is today.

What remained in Bolivia of all this? A hollow mountain, an incalculable number of Indians worked to death, and a few palaces inhabited by phantoms.

In the nineteenth century, when Bolivia was defeated in the so-called War of the Pacific, it not only lost its access to the ocean and found itself locked into the heart of South America. It also lost its saltpeter.

Official history, which is military history, has it that Chile won the war. But real history confirms that the winner was British businessman John Thomas North. Without firing a shot or wasting a penny, North won the lands that had belonged to Bolivia and Peru and made himself the king of saltpeter, which at the time was the fertilizer necessary for the tired fields of Europe.

In the twentieth century, Bolivia was the primary supplier of tin to the international market. The tin cans that made Andy Warhol famous came from the mines, which produced both metal and widows. In the depths of the mineshafts, silica dust gradually asphyxiated the workers, who ruined their lungs so the world could have cheap tin.

During the Second World War, Bolivia contributed to the Allied cause by selling its precious mineral at a tenth of its usual price. Workers' pay was slashed to almost nothing, a strike ensued, and the machine guns opened fire. Simon Patiño, owner of the business and master of the country, didn't have to pay compensation because killing by machine gun is not a workplace accident.

At the time, Don Simon paid $50 a year in taxes on his profits, but he paid much more to the president of the nation and his cabinet. He had been a dirt poor man touched by the magic wand of Fortune. His grandchildren entered the European nobility and married counts, marquis, and the relatives of kings.

When the revolution of 1952 dethroned Patiño and nationalized tin, little was left of the mineral--the meager leftovers from half a century of boundless exploitation in the service of the world market.

More than 100 years ago, historian Gabriel Rene Moreno discovered that the Bolivian people were ''cellularly incompetent." He had compared the weight of an indigenous brain and that of a mestizo and found that they weighed between five, six, and ten ounces less than the brains of members of the white race.

Time passed, and the country that doesn't exist remains ill with racism. But the country that wants to exist, where the indigenous majority is not ashamed of what it is, doesn't spit at the mirror.

This Bolivia, tired of living to fuel foreign progress, is the true country. Its history, ignored, abounds in defeat and betrayal but also in those miracles that scorned people are capable of when they stop scorning themselves and fighting each other.

These fast-moving times are marked by astounding, impressive achievements.

The year 2000 featured the so-called ''water war'' in Cochabamba. The peasants marched from the valleys and blockaded the city, which also rose up. They were met with bullets and tear gas as the government declared martial law. But the collective rebellion continued, unstoppable, until in the final clash the water was wrested from the grip of the Bechtel Corporation and restored to the people and their fields. (Bechtel, based in California, is now receiving relief from President Bush, who has awarded it multi-million-dollar contracts in Iraq.)

A few months ago, another popular explosion throughout Bolivia vanquished nothing less than the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF made them pay dearly for the defeat--more than thirty assassinations by the so-called forces of order--but the people succeeded in their task. The government had no option but to annul the payroll tax that the IMF had demanded.

Today, there's the gas war. Bolivia contains enormous reserves of natural gas. Sanchez de Lozada called this false privatization ''capitalization,', but the country that wants to exist showed it has a good memory. Would it allow a rerun of the old story of the country's riches evaporating in foreign hands? ''Gas is our right,'' proclaimed posters at the demonstration. The people demanded and continue to demand that the gas be used for Bolivia and that the country not submit again to the dictatorship of its underground resources. The right to self-determination, so often invoked, so rarely respected, begins with this.

Popular disobedience derailed a juicy deal for Pacific LNG, comprised of Repsol, British Gas, and Panamerican Gas, known to be a partner of Enron, renowned for its virtuous ways. Everything indicated that the corporation stood to make ten dollars for every one invested.

As for the fugitive Sanchez de Lozada, he lost the presidency but he won't be losing much sleep. Though he has the crime of killing more than eighty demonstrators on his conscience, it wasn't his first bloodbath. This champion of modernization is not bothered by anything that can't turn a profit. In the end, he speaks and thinks in English--not the English of Shakespeare but that of Bush.
Eduardo Galeano, a Uruguayan journalist, is the author of "The Open Veins of Latin America," "Memory of Fire," and "Soccer in Sun and Shadow."

Friday, 18 June 2010


We thought it would be fun to let you know what some of our former volunteers are doing so over the next couple month we will post news or links to their current activities.

Emily Franz came to Bolivia in the summer of 2006 to volunteer with us and get to know Bolivia. Today she can be found in playing music in Carborro, NC playing music. She and Andrew Marlin are Mandolin Orange. We can't get the office computer to live stream their music but reading about them we think you should check them out.

Thursday, 11 March 2010


For those who like to attend large activist events here is a listing of some of the international events coming up.
April 12 to 18 is the III Feria International del Agua organized to commemorate and honor the people of Cochabamba heroic struggle to recuperate water as a common good. To see all the activities planned click here.

April 19, 20, 21 and 22nd is the government organized World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth which promises to gather 5,000 activists from around the world to debate climate change issues. Hopefully, beyond the government hoopla, there will be some good workshops and conversations about deepening the analysis of western notions of development. To get an idea of what is going on check it out.

Lastly in the US this summer, The US Social Forum will take place in Detroit on June 22nd to 26th. More about this here.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010


A bit of information for folks thinking about heading to Cusco, Peru...

This warden message is being issued to alert U.S. citizens residing and
traveling in and around Cusco, Peru of travel difficulties due to bad
weather. Heavy rains since January 22, 2010 have caused landslides
throughout the Sacred Valley, blocking routes into and out of Cusco.
Travelers should consider postponing visits to Cusco and Machu Picchu
until the weather clears and the roads and train are re-opened.

We have received reports of the following:

- The airport in Cusco is closed;
- The train to/from Cusco and Machu Picchu has been cancelled
since January 23 due to landslides;
- The roads into and out of Machu Picchu are currently closed;
- The Pisac bridge has collapsed;
- The Huallabamba bridge is under water; and
- There was a landslide in Oropesa en route to Puno, travel is

Peruvian authorities are working to open a route out of Machu Picchu.
The U.S. Embassy will continue to monitor this situation. Travelers to
this region should consider postponing until the weather clears and the
roads are open. U.S. citizens may wish to monitor local media sources
for new developments and exercise extreme caution if travel to this
region is unavoidable.