Photo: Global Builders volunteer Kit Perry with a local child during a service trip to Bolivia earlier this year.
Studies have repeatedly shown that children who grow up in a decent home are happier, healthier and have better educational outcomes overall than those who do not. Those who lead Fuller Center for Housing projects across the United States and around the world do not need to read any such studies — they see the results of simple, decent, affordable housing every day.
Fuller Center of Bolivia President Alex Aramayo has witnessed one of the most striking examples of the health benefits of decent housing as a 66-home project was completed last year in the remote village of Mizque, where the Chagas disease had been festering in the mud of huts and shacks where the Chagas bug breeds and thrives. With new Fuller Center homes made of solid brick and stone, the families of Mizque won this battle against disease. Their community now stands as a tangible, living example of what studies have said about the health benefits of decent housing.
Today, The Fuller Center of Bolivia continues to build where it began its work four years ago — in the high-altitude community of El Alto, just outside the administrative capital of La Paz. El Alto sits at 13,600 feet above sea level, making it the highest-altitude Fuller Center site on the planet. It is here that The Fuller Center is working to prove another benefit of decent housing — educational outcomes. Country leaders aim to take major strides toward that in 2020.
“We are planning to build at least 30 houses next year in our El Alto project,” Fuller Center of Bolivia President Alex Aramayo said of their goal to more than double the size of the El Alto project so far. “That would mean changing the lives of around 150 Bolivian people, out of which 90 would be children who could finally find the stability of a decent home in which to grow their expectations for college.”
After protests and the subsequent resignation of President Evo Morales last month, the country of Bolivia has since returned to its normal peaceful state, a place where Fuller Center Global Builders volunteers always comment on the kindness of the people when they are surveyed about their experience.
“Now, more than ever, our country is ready to build a community with love and acceptance,” Aramayo said. “That’s why our project in El Alto needs all possible support.”
Nothing provides a jolt to The Fuller Center of Bolivia’s work quite like hosting a team of Fuller Center Global Builders. Not only do these teams of volunteers provide an influx of laborers, but they also pay fees that support the work and stimulate the local economy. When Fuller Center houses are going up, it provides work for local laborers, who provide skilled labor alongside the volunteers. And when volunteers are in town, drivers, artisans and those in the hospitality business also benefit. Aramayo said Global Builders are key to their 2020 goals.
“Global Builders teams are vital to achieving our goals because with their energy, experience, love and presence, Bolivian families and Bolivian volunteers will not only reach their dreams of getting a decent home, but they’ll also realize that it really is possible to build a better world with God’s love,” he said.
Fuller Center Global Builders Coordinator Ian Burkes got his first look at Bolivia on the most recent Global Builders service trip to Bolivia a few weeks ago.
“I had an absolute blast building in Bolivia,” Burkes said. “The scenery was beautiful, the food was amazing, and the work was some of the most satisfying I’ve ever done. It was an honor to come alongside the local Bolivians working so hard to help their communities to have safe, decent housing.”
Gallery of 2019 work in Bolivia: