FMS has been sending missioners to Bolivia for more than 20 years. We have a number of ministry options available in a city of over 1 million people: Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Cochabamba

Through a partnership with local Franciscans in Cochabamba, FMS missioners engage in a wide variety of ministries and live at the Franciscan Social Center in the downtown area of Cochabamba. Here are a few examples of ministries, in which current and past missioners have engaged:

Centro Una Brisa de Esperanza(CUBE)/A Breeze of Hope is the first and only center in Bolivia to specialize in the provision of free psychological, legal, medical, and social services for child and adolescent victims of sexual violence.

CUBE is a pioneer in its field because it uses transdisciplinary treatment protocols. Professionals from different disciplines—lawyers, psychologists, social workers, nurses, and physicians—all work together to form an integrated treatment plan and legal strategy for the child that is compassionate and comforting. In order to prevent sexual assault, CUBE provides educational workshops for the legislators, judges, prosecutors, police, government officials and the general public. CUBE has provided education and training to over 70,000 people and has brought awareness to over 1,000,000 people through massive information campaigns.

Franciscans International is a nongovernmental organization that provides a Franciscan voice at the United Nations to address human rights injustices that impact the marginalized and the most vulnerable.

The priority areas for the Franciscans International include: extreme poverty, the environment and peace-building. Missioners have the opportunity to collaborate with leaders from Bolivian religious orders to raise public consciousness about the social justice issues affecting local Bolivian communities.

Franciscan Social Center is run by Franciscan religious sisters and friars and provides many free services to those in need in  Cochabamba.
These include: healthcare (primary care physician, psychologist, dentist, and a trauma counselor), enrichment workshops, a soup kitchen, AA meetings, childcare and other services for families. Many of the guests at the Franciscan Social Center are indigenous and often are so poor that they have to live and/or work on the streets of Cochabamba.
Fundación San Lucas is a nonprofit health foundation that provides a variety of services to the most marginalized populations of Cochabamba and the surrounding rural communities.
Some of these services include: a mobile hospital; dental, medical, and developmental checkups; physical therapy and medical support for children with disabilities; women’s support groups, nutrition and prevention workshops, and other community development initiatives. Part of the staff works at the Franciscan Social Center serving the medical and dental needs of people in the city who live on the streets. Missioners are needed to help accompany patients to doctor appointments in public hospitals, assist with educational workshops, and participate in home and school visits with the physicians.
Manos Con Libertad/FreeHands a Christian co-operative of prisoners from San Sebastián Women’s prison and those who are on probation outside.
The women and their children are trapped in a terrible cycle of ever-increasing debt, and they usually are or were imprisoned for poverty-related reasons. The hope of Manos de Libertad is that by providing the women with an honest wage, the women not only break the bonds of their debt, but also reclaim a sense of dignity and self-worth.

In the prisons, Manos Con Libertad provides materials and instruction on how to make crafts that can be sold in order to cover the cost of the inmates’ food and beds in the prison. Manos con Libertad also leads Bible studies, reflections and workshops. Outside the prison walls, the organization provides classes (including business development, personal finance, self-esteem, cooking, baking, crafts, etc.) for women who have recently been released from prison in order to help them reintegrate back into their local communities. The organization also runs a restaurant, a bakery, and a store where the women’s’ crafts are sold.

Nuestra Casa is a home for girls ages 7-18 who have experienced some kind of sexual violence.
The home provides the girls with a safe and nurturing place to recover from their experiences, receive therapy, recognize their self-worth, and to “just be kids.” Besides taking care of the girls’ basic needs, Nuestra Casa also offers the girls extracurricular activities such as Zumba, art classes, tutoring, field trips, and other fun activities. There is a need for extracurricular instructors, therapists and individuals who will serve as healthy role models and mentors to the girls.
Mosoj Yan is an organization that works with children and teenagers who live or work on the streets.
Many of children have experienced violence, abandonment or difficulties in their home lives, and all of them have had to grow up too soon. Mosoj Yan assists the kids through a number of different services, programs and activities divided into their two main focuses: protection and prevention. Mosoj Yan works with the children and families to work towards helping the children obtain a more stable living or working situation, as well as providing them with a safe space to meet, learn, and play. They also have a home for teenagers who are pregnant or new mothers.
San Sebastian Women’s Prison is Cochabamba’s main women’s prison in the city. There are currently over 200 women living there, and the women are there for a variety of reasons, anything from debt to murder.
The women in San Sebastian are often suffering from more than just time behind bars – they often face rape, abandonment, starvation, poverty, medical situations, and many other challenges. Missioners who engage in prison ministry help lead Bible studies, reflections, self-confidence workshops, art and theater classes and other activities for the women. All of these activities are avenues for the missioners to accompany the women, form relationships with them (many of whom do not have other visitors) and for the missioners to offer a listening ear and a compassionate heart.