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Following an earthquake which struck Bolivia in 1998, SOS Children's Villages established an emergency relief programme providing food, medical care and shelter, as well as temporary accommodation for over 500 children separated from their families in the disaster … more about our charity work in Bolivia

Against all odds

Against all odds

Isabel* is a mother of four from Tarija, a city in the south of Bolivia. When her husband was attacked and hospitalised with serious injuries, Isabel struggled to afford medical costs and care for their children. After turning to the local SOS Social Centre for help, she established her own small fruit business and built a better life for the family.

Before the attack, Isabel’s husband, a mason by trade, was the sole wage earner in the family. Isabel was a full-time housewife and mother, and the family depended entirely on the salary of her husband.

After he was hospitalised, the family’s situation quickly deteriorated. Isabel quickly ran out of her already scarce family savings and was unable to afford her husband’s hospital bills and medication.

Alone and desperate, with four hungry children at home, Isabel started to look for help. After asking around, she discovered the SOS Social Centre in Tarija, which provides support for parents to prevent poverty and child abandonment.

Isabel met SOS social workers, who got to know the family and establish their needs. The children were given daily food packages, as well as educational support and health assistance.

A long-term solution

To improve the family’s life in the long-term and ensure the wellbeing of the children, the centre supported Isabel to set up a small business in the town.

SOS Children offered her a loan of 1,000 Bs. (approximately £76) to buy and start selling a variety of fruits close to a busy local bus stop. At the same time, she attended business training workshops provided by the social centre to learn about how to run a profitable business.

With her dedication and hard work, the business grew. Life quickly got better for the family, and her husband recovered enough to leave the hospital. Isabel says: “My husband has left hospital and is recovering gradually. Sometimes, he helps me sell at my stand, especially when I attend the workshops at the centre and while I go for more merchandise.”

With the profits and the knowledge she has gained, Isabel is planning to expand her business further: “Now that I’ve learnt things about agriculture at the centre, I am planning to grow vegetables on my father-in-law’s land, outside the city, in the countryside."

SOS Children in Bolivia

We have been working to improve the lives of children in Bolivia since 1975. Our Family Strengthening Programmes empower parents to care for their children and improve their standard of living. Through all of our programmes, we are providing help and support to more than 13,600 Bolivians.

Find out more about our charity's work in Bolivia.

*For privacy reasons, we have changed the name of the mother