Report from the President, November 2003


Last month I spent two weeks in Bolivia, following a week in Peru to study Spanish and get acclimated to medium (8,200 feet) altitude. Things were tense when I arrived in Bolivia on Saturday 10/11; on Sunday 34 people were killed in El Alto when the government told the army to convoy fuel trucks through the campesino blockade, and on Monday another 20 were killed in clashes in central La Paz. For the rest of the week both cities (as well as three others) were shut down—no shops or restaurants, no transport, no street vendors. Marches and demonstrations continued, now with stricter internal discipline that practically eliminated violence: one of the campesino slogans was, "Enough Blood Has Been Shed!" On Friday night the president resigned, and Saturday things began to return to normal. You can read my fuller report at .

I was in Bolivia to talk about the work of BQEF, but of course the meetings and visits planned for that week had to be postponed. On Friday I did meet with three members of the Executive Committee of INELA (Iglesia Nacional Evangélica de Los Amigos), and on Saturday with most of the scholarship students. The next week it was possible to visit the schools.

BQEF has made a great start in Bolivia. The coordinator, Bernabé Yujra, got things off on the right foot with the scholarships. He and his committee decided that each student would receive the same stipend, $50 per month to be picked up in person at the BQEF office. This arrangement keeps him in touch. The amount might seem ridiculously small, but in Bolivia it really helps a lot.

BQEF barely got started when we were identified as a service opportunity, first by three Guilford students in May-July, now by a recent Haverford graduate with a Pickett grant, and next February by a pair of Westtown students. English classes have profited greatly.

Projects for next year include:

  • Increasing the scholarships from 15 to 20
  • Installing five new computers in each of the three secondary schools
  • Increasing the numbers of weekly sessions for English and computation
  • Planning for a teacher exchange for January-June 2005
  • Helping the schools find a governance system with more continuity and stability
  • Having Bernabé Yujra work full-time instead of half-time

We published our first newsletter in June and have the second one (featuring reports from the service volunteers) nearly ready. The Board has been expanded, and we have received determination from the IRS of our 501(c)(3) status. We have a long way to go, but the Spirit is still telling us that we are heading right.

Three requests: (1) Please consider a generous donation to the work, with a check made out to "BQEF" and sent to 11253 Boston Road, East Concord NY 14055. (2) Please sound out your meeting about putting BQEF in the meeting budget. At present three meetings have donated or budgeted $500 to $600, and we would like to have much more meeting support. (3) We do not have this email list coordinated with a regular mailing list, so if you would like to have a copy of the newsletter—and I hope you do—please send your postal address by reply to this message.

Thanks. Y que el Espíritu de paz y verdad te bendiga!

Newton Garver