In June 2012, Alexis Vargas and Becca Burns began to develop a project to create a home for children that provided them with physical, emotional and spiritual care. It would also provide an open kitchen for children and families to come for a meal together. After discussing the idea with Alexis’ church, Paraiso de Fe in La Paz, Bolivia, they were excited to collaborate in the endeavor. Since its’ start, Alexis and Becca have pursued gaining 501c3 status in the State of Pennsylvania for Harmony of the Andes, a non-profit organization aimed to provide services to abandoned, vulnerable and economically disadvantaged children to empower them to become leaders and productive members in their community.
Bolivia is a third world country. It is one of the poorest countries in Latin America. Almost two-thirds of the people in Bolivia live in poverty. This poverty, marginalization and social exclusion negatively impact the children. More than 800,000 children 18 years and younger perform hard labor work and more than 4,000 children 14 years and younger live in the streets. They survive by begging, theft and prostitution in urban areas. Only 39 percent of children who work continue their schooling while just over 4% have never even attended school.
Bolivia is characterized by its richness in cultural diversity. Currently there are 36 differents cultures that share the same territory. This makes Bolivia a country with both cultural and artistic potential, which due to the economic crisis has not been able to have opportunities of development. Harmony of the Andes wants to implement leadership programs that help children to contribute to their communities developing their unique artistic capabilities while they learn and grow.
Harmony of the Andes focuses on building relationships and partnerships with local nonprofit organizations and schools, working together to provide children with all of their basic needs.
In February 2013, a member of Paraiso de Fe donated a piece of land for the construction of a children’s shelter. The land is central and accessible to many communities and areas of La Paz. With this accessibility, Harmony of the Andes hopes to reach our target population of children living on the streets in the city. It is located 15 minutes outside of San Miguel and is a ten minute drive to the church, Paraiso de Fe. The school where the children might go is walking distance from the shelter. While we are working on the construction of the shelter, we want to build relationships with other organizations and shelters in Bolivia by supporting some of their needs and sending voluntees.
Harmony of the Andes is in the process of discovering ways to help abandoned and economically disadvantaged children in the city of La Paz. With combined passions, an extensive network both in Bolivia and the US, we will develop programs to work towards getting these children off of the streets, providing hope for a bright future.