Life as it is in Bolivia

Life as it is in Bolivia

Life as it is in Bolivia

By Julie Noble

(Julie Noble, a dedicated missionary from the U.K., serves with Latin Link. She is stationed in Bolivia, where she and her mission, Latin America Mission, collaborate whenever possible. Julie has devoted many years to her work in Oruro, a high mountainous region in the Andrea. Her ministry is focused on young people. In this article, she shares a challenging day in her ministry with Prison Fellowship. LAM is always grateful to receive such insightful letters from Latin Link missionaries.) 

On Saturday morning, I was up at 5:30 a.m. to make cakes for the Prison Fellowship fundraising lunch. The most popular options are brownies and caramel pear cake, so I made two tins of each (there was also an order for a tin of gluten-free brownies for Monday) before heading off to the Young Offender Centre for the last class of the victim empathy course at 9 a.m.

The session focused on ensuring the boys understood restorative justice and how it may be applied in their cases (most groups S. and I have been leading are still on remand). When they go to their hearings, they need to answer questions from the judge about restorative justice, and we must send a report saying that they have had the topic explained to them. 

If they receive a sentence, there will be one-to-one work with them individually when they reach the middle of their time and apply for parole. At the end of the class, we collected the workbooks to check and helped two boys who had missed a session complete the missing parts. S. and I headed to the Prison Fellowship office on foot, stopping at my flat to pick up the cakes.

The Restoring Hope volunteers did the shopping and food preparation on Friday. Once we had bought the chicken at 7.30 a.m., I was sent back to the office to cut the fat off the 125 chicken portions, wash, and prepare them while three other volunteers went to get all the rest of the shopping. One chicken portion had shown a distinctly green tinge, so it was discarded (fed to the caretaker’s dog). Still, fortunately, the guy at the wholesale chicken shop had “yapado” two extra portions, so we were not short.

The Angel Tree volunteers cooked from very early on Saturday morning. When we arrived, they served lunch: chicken, potato, oca, sweet potato, and salad when we arrived. We sold 125 food plates (although seven were not picked up). Many old friends of Prison Fellowship Oruro, including an ex-Angel Tree girl and her husband, supported us by coming to buy food. 

There are currently seven final-year students from the German School volunteering at Angel Tree, and they and their families supported the event, too. The cakes sold quickly, and things were mostly cleared up when I left for a restorative conference between an offender and victim at the Young Offender Centre at 3 p.m.

There have been ongoing challenges at the Young Offender Centre, with the sixth administrator and third psychologist this year. We’ve also seen several new educators, and unfortunately, the longest-serving educator, with whom we’ve had a fruitful collaboration, has been removed. The number of young people detained remains around eighty. Despite these challenges, we continue to strive for positive change. 

The participants for the conference were waiting when I arrived at the Young Offender Centre, and J.L. and I facilitated the meeting. It lasted an hour and a half and was positive, although we have some observations which will go in the report to the judge. After the official meeting, the participants shared some refreshments, and I left with the visitors. 

The funds raised at the successful fundraising lunch will cover the cost of Prison Fellowship Oruro’s quota for the international office this year, our essential paperwork (power of attorney for the legal representative, etc.), and administrative costs (training, paper, photocopies, photos for our album, etc.). Your contributions have made a significant difference in our mission’s operations.