Cochabamba, Bolivia

  Paths to Progress:  Lo que está pasando en Cochabamba

Community Partner Highlights

appropriatetechnology.pngCEDESOL (the Center for Development with Solar Energy) aims to transform lives and protect the environment by equipping people with appropriate technology and education; the organization designs and distributes green technology. CEDESOL is “committed to empowering the disempowered”.

health.gifInstituto Para el Desarollo Humano (IDH) works to develop social awareness and preventative medicine while promoting gender equity and basic human rights. IDH provides low-cost medical services and distributes valuable educational material to the public.

Internship Opportunities in Bolivia click here

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An Introduction to the Garden City


The city of Cochabamba (the capital of the Cochabamba Department) lies in a fertile valley of the Andes mountain range. A thriving city of roughly 1,938,401 inhabitants, it is among Bolivia’s most economically and socially progressive cities with a strong grassroots political movement. Infrastructure, however, remains particularly underdeveloped. Decades ago, private companies gained control of the management of basic resources, denying certain neighborhoods access to clean water, sanitation, and housing. Families that live without these important services are more likely to contract illnesses and be malnourished, struggle to receive education, and have difficulty sustaining their incomes. Over the past decade, many of FSD's community partners have stepped up to address these issues and are making significant headway on the development of infrastructure, education, and social entrepreneurship.


Central Bolivia

    Population:  est. 1,938,401

    Avg. temperature:  Low 48ºF / High 80ºF

    Local time: 

    Local language:  Spanish


Organization: Aldeas SOS
Topic: Literacy
Intern: Jane Finocharo

Aldeas SOS and Intern Jane Finocharo are working to combat illiteracy and encourage reading. The “Children's Village” for abandoned or orphaned children now has access to a small library, where students can check-out books, get inspired by reading competitions, and participate in story-telling.


Organization: Gaia Pacha
Topic: Environment
Intern: Kelly Chang

Gaia Pacha provides environmental education programs to schools and neighborhoods throughout Cochabamba. Intern Kelly Chang’s project focused on illegal animal trafficking; by creating an illustrated children’s book, Kelly communicated to children the importance of protecting wild animals.

Mauricio Ramirez Parra, Program Director


Mauricio has served as the Director of FSD's Bolivia program since it was initiated in 2000. He has extensive experience working with the international community and has been involved with various agricultural and environmental development projects. In addition to his work with FSD, Mauricio is currently the President of Partners of the Americas in Bolivia, an organization that connects volunteers from the United States and Bolivia to work together on pressing social issues.

A day in the life of an FSD Intern

Solidarity of warmi

Sarah Connette partnered with Centro Integral Warmi, a well-respected community organization in Cochabamba in operation since 1982, dedicated to supporting mothers and their children in the community of Sacaba.

For the past 5 weeks I have been working at Centro Integral Warmi, a small nonprofit community center in a neighborhood on the outskirts of Cochabamba, Bolivia. In addition to running a day-care center and a library, Warmi operates a soap factory that employs ten mothers in the community. The women take turns cooking, taking care for the kids, and working in the Centro Productivo. In the Centro Productivo, I had the chance to work with them as they ripped animal fat to be cooked in a giant, fairytale pot, broke hard casts of soap into smaller pieces, and dumped the pieces into two machines that churned out soap in thick, spaghetti-like strings. The women work hard but enjoy it as they chat and joke with each other. As one woman said, “Como hermanas trabajamos,” or “We work like sisters.” The stories of these women are both rich and moving, and I felt like the customers should know more about what buying Warmi soap means to these women.

I had the opportunity to interview the 5 women who have been here for a long time, some since the organization began in 1982. I asked some questions about their families, their personal stories, and what they like about the work and about Warmi, but mostly I just let the conversations flow. Hunched over a little Sony tape recorder in the library filled with chattering kids, I listened to the recorded conversations and typed up the testimonials. With these testimonials I will help create a brochure exclusively about the women and the story of the Centro Productivo to be included when the soap is sold. The power of a story is transformative, and ultimately, the most sustainable development is one that transforms lives through the heart. Although the salaries are fairly minimal, the women continue to work here because of their kids. They want their kids to eat and grow up in an environment that fosters educational and personal growth. warmi.jpgOne thing that I heard over and over again was, “Por mis wawas he entrado,” or “I came because of my kids.” Before Warmi, many of these women sold meat, worked in agricultural fields, or washed clothes. Warmi has been a foundation for them, a second home, where they know their kids are safe nearby receiving physical, emotional, and intellectual nourishment. They have become active community members. I hope that, with the creation of this brochure about their stories, Warmi can sell more soap to a wider range of people who appreciate and are inspired by the empowerment stories of these women. These señoras exemplify what the solidarity of “warmi”--which means “women” in Quechua--can accomplish.