By Rida Ahmed
Proyecto Horizonte is a non-profit organization that provides comprehensive health, education and local development initiatives in Ushpa-Ushpa, Bolivia. The organization began as a health care facility which provided basic medical and dental care, limited schooling and a supply of meals and clothes Since its inception in 2001, Proyecto Horizonte has expanded to provide programs and projects for children in kindergarten to adults. According to their website the organization’s ultimate goal is to lift the Ushpa-Ushpa community out of poverty.
To achieve their goal, the non-profit provides comprehensive programs in areas of health, education and development. Education starts at kindergarten where children are taught basic hygiene practices such as brushing teeth and many other lessons through games and activities. An early childhood specialized teacher and educational psychologist are on hand to look after children with development disabilities and those struggling with learning to ensure no child is left behind. The average cost to send a child to kindergarten is around $4 a month - which includes 4 meals for the kids - and those that cannot afford to pay help around at the school. From there, kids move onto the main school which provides education from grade 1 to 12 and currently has around 630 children. Students are taught math, science, literature, music, arts, sports and many more subjects. The cost per child is $3 a month and those that cannot afford it are given scholarships. In conjunction with the St Vincent de Paul Society these students are also given school materials and subsidized lunches. In addition to teaching kids and teenagers, the organization also offers evening school for adults which leads to a University recognized high school diploma within five years.
Since 2001 Proyecto Horizonte has enhanced their healthcare initiative to better serve the Ushpa-Ushpa community. Two doctors, two dentists, two nurses, a biochemist and an assistant provide medical and dental consultations, vaccines and preventative programs. They also offer two free government initiatives targeted at young children to reduce infant mortality. According to the organization, “The next closest health center is a number of kilometers away and therefore we provide the community with an invaluable service. Before the laboratory existed within our health center, tests were done in the city and would be expensive and take time to be returned and therefore delaying treatment.”
Proyecto Horizonte’s local development initiative is divided into four schemes; community training, violence prevention, sport and art and housing, and work programs. Through community development, the organization tackles issues outside the realm of school, including nutrition, hygiene, leadership, self esteem and sexual education by offering women’s groups, parents’ school and a subject devoted to personal development.
Violence in the form of domestic abuse, sexual assault, neglect of children and inter-gang violence are common. Proyecto Horizonte organizes campaigns to emphasize that violence is unacceptable and can be avoided. They also provide clinical psychologists and social workers to help victims of abuse.
To ensure the Ushpa-Ushpa community can lift itself from poverty, Proyecto Horizonte manages a diverse selection of development programs that will ensure long term self-sufficiency. In addition to the above, the organization also offers English and computer classes, sport and art activities, psychology and pedagogic centre, and housing and work programs.
The organization has stated, “Our vision is to provide a well-structured base for sustainable development and act as a blueprint for other projects demonstrating the efficiency and success of a privately managed and organized initiative. We believe in the people of Mineros San Juan, Ushpa-Ushpa and their ability to develop towards a middle class community, and with our help become a model for other programs faced with the same challenges.”