Bolivia Report: Seeing the Difference
by Julia Cannell, Women of Vision Program Manager
“Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.” ~Philemon 1:7 (NIV)
It’s been over two weeks since I returned from Bolivia. This was my first Vision Trip and I was blessed to be traveling with the wonderful women from Columbia Willamette. The intention of these trips is to see, first-hand, the results of the work Women of Vision supports and I’m afraid I’m not sure how to describe the impact of the work you all do.
As Women of Vision we are called to have our heart broken by the things that break the heart of God. In Bolivia there was heartbreak to be seen, but there was also joy and encouragement. The hearts of the saints are surely full of joy when they see the impact the work of WOV has had on the people we met in Bolivia.
During our trip we had the opportunity to view the true before and after of World Vision’s work. We saw a relatively new ADP and, in contrast, one that will have completed its work this month. In the ADP which has fulfilled World Vision’s commitment to the community we had the honor of seeing the outcome—teenage girls who are living a life full of promise and potential.
In our newer ADP we were able to meet and visit with the families of the children the Columbia-Willamette women have sponsored. We talked with women who have benefitted from the Channels of Hope for Gender projects that include both entrepreneurial and gender equality components. I found myself thanking God for the opportunity to serve alongside such an inspirational group of women and serve such a faithful community in Bolivia. The World Vision staff is innovative, committed and effective. The families we serve are willing to do whatever they need to in order to provide their children a chance at a better life. Their lives have improved in every area from maternal and child health, nutrition, water and sanitation, but most impactful was the change in gender equality.
These women, with the average equivalent of a fifth grade education, have taken on gender equality in their communities and in their homes. In the area we visited after 2 ½ years of participation these women have increased their family incomes by an average of 13%. Over 19% of them are now involved in their communities—two of them as acting mayors. Before this program there were none of these women even considered being involved in such male-dominated matters.
Women of Vision has provided financial support through direct project funding and sponsorship. The lives of the women touched by this support have been changed forever, as have the lives of their children. In visiting the country I can honestly say my life has been changed forever.
“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” ~ Deuteronomy 4:9 (NIV)
As we said goodbye to each group the message was the same—they asked that we please do not forget the people of Bolivia. I ask that you pray for the people of Bolivia and our staff there. I also ask that you continue to support the work we are doing there because the results are evident in the faces of the women and children.
I am, as always, honored to be working with Women of Vision and blessed to be among women who surely refresh the hearts of saints.