back to the Hampton family photos main page

Bolivia 2010
(page 1 of 4)

Sorata, our home town for two weeks, perched on a mountainside at 9,000'. Towering behind are Illampu (20,867') and Ancohuma (21,081').

Sorata's central plaza has trees so old nobody knows when they were planted. We went with a Quaker group, primarily to work at the internado, a dormitory for jr. high and high school students from remote villages to live at while they attend the local schools.

Caleb mixes cement for the patio. Luke pokes his head thru a hole he and Caleb pounded in a wall, in preparation to put in a door. And we move a very heavy rock with Eusebio, the internado house parent. We also helped set up six laptops for the students (some of whom had never before used a computer), taught them how to use digital cameras and software, and helped build a shade structure on a rooftop patio.
The internado is a recent project of Bolivian Quaker Education Fund (BQEF). It allows 20 students to attend high school, which would otherwise be infeasible due to the long walk to town. Some of the students are top in their grade. BQEF also provides college scholarships ($50/month) to 35 students. We met some of them and were very impressed. A small donation goes a long way to supporting these very capable young people. Here, counselor Ruben (right) demonstrates a magic trick with the kids.

A typical remote community across the canyon-- a two-hour vehicle ride or a seven-hour walk. Drivers would sometimes handle blind hairpin one-lane corners by minimizing the time spent on them! The walking paths weren't much better, but to the locals (from children to the elderly), a three-hour walk is "muy cerca" (very close). We were able to offer a ride one weekend to three of the kids (ages 14-16), sparing them their usual seven-hour walk to Sorata to go to school.

Much of Bolivia is very traditional, with over 60% of the population indigenous Aymara or Quechua. Women wear bowler hats, large skirts, and invariably are carrying an aguallo, the colorful blanket used to carry children or produce or even car parts. The soccer field in the background is at 14,500'.

Bolivia has the third largest Quaker population of any country. Quaker Bolivia Link is frugal yet very effective organization that does a lot with a little. This llama and alpaca farm was one of their projects, developing an important source of wool, meat, and income for the community.

Many community gatherings (this one for us at the llama farm) include a kind of pot luck meal spread on a blanket. Foods include many different types of potato, including chunya, freeze-dried using an ancient Inca method involving the sun and the freezing nights. This method of storing potatoes remains widespread today.

A street in Sorata. Lonna spent a day with the local traveling medical team-- which turned into two days, a long night, several patients, a trip to the hospital, and some hair-raising driving on mountainside roads.

Luke (16), Bunky (12), and Caleb (19) below Illampu. All the locals told us that the snow fields have greatly receded due to "el cambio de la clima" (climate change).

on to page two (of four) of Bolivia 2010 photos