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Addressing Contamination Issues in Cochabamba, Bolivia

Published August 20, 2020 in Bolivia , Personal Stories & Opinions - 0 Comments

As can be seen in this article here

My first trip to South America included a flight to Bolivia…..

Before I ended up enjoying the beauty of the Amazon Rainforest….

Before taking my flight to Cochabamba, Bolivia….

Where I had lined up some work that was set to be done with a local NGO in the area…

From memory, they were basically an NGO in Bolivia run by this British guy named Alex if my memory serves right.

Who was pretty professional and easy to work with.

And the NGO would set you up with local NGOs to work with depending on your interests and skills.

While also setting you up with some local homestay as well to make your transition as easy as possible.

Now, I moved into Cochhabamba and had a few of their NGO members wait for me at the local airport…

Before having the dad of the local family of the homestay come by to pick me up.

Long story short, the first homestay I had was pretty terrible because they never wanted to give me food despite being a relatively rich Bolivian family that was well-off in hindsight…

And was paid to give me food and shelter…

Despite only giving me one meal a day although I was promised 3 a day…..

Suffice to say, I ended up moving to another homestay in Cochabamba to another family that was much friendlier and didn’t have any issue providing the services promised.

And to be fair, they handled the issue very quickly in a day or two when I brought it up to them.

So no fault on their end – they did the best they could and were as professional as you could hope for.

And the staff running it were very easy to get along with.

So it was really just a bad experience with the first specific homestay but everything was fine after that.

Not to mention that they had plenty of events held such as this movie below…

Or this dinner we cooked together below as well…

So a good and professional organization all around.

Either way, going back to the work I was set up with..

Through this organization, I was set up with a local NGO in Cochabamba, Bolivia that had the goal of building portable toilets.

Getting to Work

The NGO that I was assigned to work at was in a pretty far away neighborhood from where I lived in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

The travel time was probably about an hour each way more or less through “combis” or these little vans that you see in Latin America that take you around everywhere.

Anyway, we often took them to this place each morning around 7 or 8 AM.

The earliest I ever got up in my life.

Even earlier than the manager of this NGO since it wasn’t uncommon to be waking up him up with the knocking on his door…

“oye Julio, ya llegamos. Donde estas wey?”

Granted, he wouldn’t say wey given all of this was in Bolivia…

Anyway, I was working with another American…

That also came from the Midwest if I remember right…

And his job was to work with him on doing fundraising work for this NGO…

As he was a little bit younger than I was and I had some fundraising work under my belt with other NGOs in Latin America and the US also…

Our job assigned to us was to basically fundraise some money for the organization.

Whose purpose was to basically build portable bathrooms in this part of Cochabamba,  Bolivia.

Because in like any city, there is inequality obviously.

And some parts of the city have more inequality than others.

Where some parts have more available bathrooms than others.

And in the parts that don’t, it ends up meaning more pollution and human waste in the area to local lakes for example.

All around worsening the quality of life for everyone living in the area.

So our job was to basically get the fundraising necessary to help build some portable toilets in the area.

The other American was a guy named Jacob if I remember right…

Anyway…

The Results

Thankfully for this organization that we were working with at the time…

I already had some experience fundraising and this wasn’t a new experience for me….

The goal was, if I remember right, about $1,500 USD.

From our online campaign, we got raised a little over that but under $2,000 USD.

We also had some local support from some organization that, if I remember right, was called Water for People.

Some international NGO that I recall that has offices around the world.

So, all put together, we got enough money obviously to expand our operations in offering more portable toilets for the local population in this specific neighborhood of Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Reflection

Out of all the NGOs that I ever ended up working with…

This was by far the more professional one…

Granted, it’s not like I have worked with every NGO in Latin America…

But this one was much more realistic in terms of goals…

And much more professional in terms of handling any issues that came our way from my memory..

This was after having done some minor work in Mexico, Guatemala and Nicaragua…

And before taking my work to Argentina and Colombia afterwards…

Anyway, I was impressed overall by my time working with this NGO.

In terms of their professionalism at the time and also ability to help me connect with other foreigners and meet other people in the same boat as me working abroad…

And it was definitely good experience for my later work in Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Colombia, etc…

And one other thing I liked about Cochabamba was how friendly the local people were and how easy it was to make local friends.

Anyway, if you have any experience working for NGOs or in Bolivia….

Or if you have any questions…

Let me know in the comment section below or follow me on Twitter here.

Would appreciate either one…

Thanks!

Best regards,

Matt

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