On a recent conference call with Willy Mendoza, CHOICE In-Country Director for Bolivia, Willy related to us the new and exciting partnership with a French NGO, Andes Fertiles.
Andes Fertiles has been working in the Altiplano and, until now, was struggling to find a good/honest Bolivian, who understands rural development AND understands the unique culture of the indigenous Aymara Indians to funnel some of their resources to.
It appears that Willy fits that bill! They have partnered now with CHOICE on a number of successful projects and it appears that this relationship is growing. Their Director and some of their staff have visited CHOICE work areas and have seen first hand how the CHOICE model works in Bolivia and how effective it is. They have become very impressed with how Willy approaches the villages and how he works to train and improve the local leadership.
They have also seen and are impressed with Willy’s ability to motivate and to network the community to other resources. It is with this spirit of collaboration that they are organizing their first ‘CHOICE like’ expedition. In July of this year, they will be bringing 10 volunteer participants from France to work in Taypipampa on a Community Water Project.
Willy and Maxi will facilitate their expedition experience. This expedition and the projects that they will be working on will be funded entirely by Andes Fertiles and the volunteer participants in much the same manner that CHOICE is conducting expeditions.
Also, interesting to note, is their willingness to help and support the women of Muruamya (another CHOICE village). These women are engaged in a project supported by Ohio State University. The project’s inception was from a CHOICE expedition in 2008 by a group of OSU students that worked with the village and, while there, ‘brainstormed’ a number of micro enterprise ideas, one of which was the making and marketing of Alpaca scarves to Ohio State University students and alumni. These scarves would be hand made with the OSU logo and networked through appropriate channels for sale in the USA.
Andes Fertiles would like to expand the program to include other hand made crafts and clothing and has agreed to help the women market those products in Europe. This is the idea; and we’re hoping that, in the next few months, this project will contribute to a significant increase in income to the individual households of these women.