Finishing and farewells

We arrived back in the UK on April 12th after a whirlwind of goodbye parties and sad farewells. Our last few weeks and months were really busy; trying to hand over and finish the various projects that we had been involved with.

The Expressions team arrived from the UK and we used their 3 weeks to forge links with existing projects and a few new ones. It was amazing to have them with us. Even though it was a little bit squashed having six people living in our little apartment. We managed to get to Sucre, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz.

This blog will include more photos than usual with captions as a way of showing what we have been up to.


Working with the boys in Cometa and being a able to share the Good News was a real joy


Every Friday and Monday we would play volleyball or basketball with the boys


Our lovely friend Hali came to stay for a few days from Santa Cruz.It was great to show her our projects and here more about her work with the Ayoreos


Working with a youth group at Richard’s church: presenting drama and doing a music workshop


Daniella and Jayson Hobbs arrived from the UK for a three week mission trip

Ellie and Francesca arrived a few days later and the Expressions team was complete. We had planned an exciting schedule of activiites and visits for them. They were hoping to use their creativity to communcate the gospel . This was Easter Sunday when we hiked up the 1240 steps to the Cristo staute above Cochabamaba.


Visiting Horno K’casa in Sucre one last time with craft activiites, games, drama and music. This is where we worked in 2007-09 and it is wonderful to see how the children have benefitted from the educational centre and facilities which we started and that have been supported faithfully by the CCE church in Sucre.


The older kids decorated baseball hats


At a youth cell group in Sucre studying the bible and using art as a way of expressing our thoughts. The young people had never really done anything like this before and enjoyed it very much.


With our lovely friends in Sucre at the house of Gonzalo (grey T shirt and shorts) and Maricel (red stripey T shirt)


Performing street drama with our team from Belen church. These guys have been consistently willing to help every last Sunday of the month to evangelise in the main plaza. It was a memorable experience for our team to be invloved in.
We had the opportunity to speak at a church called Kairos in Santa Cruz about Servanthood. A group from the church took part in some training and then came to help us when we visited a number of youth prisons in the area.
Our trip to Santa Cruz started with presentations and teaching at Kairos church. A totally cool experience with reggae worship.


Afternoon dance workshop at Mosoyjan.
Afternoon dance workshop at Mosoyjan.

DSCF9952 DSCF9915 DSCF9985DSCF9952DSCF0014

As you can imagine being back the UK is quite a strange experience. Can’t understand why the temperature is below 25° and we wonder why people run away from us when we go to hug and kiss them (as is the Bolivian way!). We are really enjoying seeing friends and family again, but will never forget the amazing adventure, privilege and community that we have found in Bolivia. We will be back…

A very big thank you to everyone who has supported our journey, through prayer, emails and packages, we are still waiting for 2 Christmas packages that seem to have been lost along the way! Thanks also to those that have sent donations which miraculously arrived when we needed them. It’s been great to share our journey and ministry with you.


Crafts, Carnival and collectivism…

As part of our work at the youth prison we have the opportunity to teach art. We just work with a small group each week, which is perfect for being able to chat and answer questions. Recently we drew portraits and it was amazing to see their self esteem grow as they realised their potential. The following week we went and they had all been practicing and showed us their work with immense pride. Since the New year there have been a group of Bolivian volunteers working alongside “Save the Children” following an educational program in the prison. 

Knowing that we are leaving in two months we have been trying to encourage others to get involved in the work at Cometa. There are a number of local volunteers who are going to carry on the work of Transformations. We are supporting a group who teach basketball and volleyball on Monday and Friday afternoons. 

A few of the young people we have got to know well have recently been released from Cometa. We have tried to keep in touch via Facebook. We have unsuccessfully arranged to meet up with a few of them outside… This often means waiting around for a few hours at a time. Many of them have had to return to family and friends and our worry is that without support they will fall back into their old habits There is no social safety net to catch these vulnerable young people. Please keep praying for them.

I had the opportunity to go to a Women’s conference with a large group of ladies here in Cochabamba (IF Gathering). It was a lovely day to listen and chat with people working here and sharing about our experiences.
Carnival was, as always, crazy! Random water balloons and foam sprayed at you from any angle at any time of the day or night. There are bands marching around the streets and people dancing in national folkloric costumes. We actually escaped the city on the main parade day this year to go for a walk in the mountains. It was a nice route alongside a river in Tiquipaya. 

There has also been a referendum here to see if the current president can stand for another term. This means changing the constitution. There have been lots of protests and marches. The voting took place yesterday so we will wait and see what happens.
One of the loveliest things about Bolivia is how we feel part of the family. We get “collected” by people in the culture of “collectivism”. It means we are never without a lovely invitation to go somewhere and spend time with people. It is one of the things we love most about Bolivia, the most important thing is time. Time spent with people you love and time developing friendships. We had a delicious BBQ with friends who are part of a couples group from church. We cooked, ate, told jokes, laughed, sang songs and shared stories. 
We are looking forward to having a creative arts team of three people from the UK to visit us from 16 March for three weeks. We are planning to show them all our projects and take them to various youth centres and churches in Cochabamba, Sucre and Santa Cruz. Please pray for safety and for many opportunities to share the Good News.

If you would like to give financially towards our work here in Bolivia please use the following bank details.

Fundraising account: Mr D Such Barclays Sort code 20 39 07 Account no. 50163678


Playing volleyball with the boys in cometa


The girls are already much better than us at knitting!


Having the opportunity to chat to one guy who was reading his Bible.


The IF conference for ladies in Cochabamaba


Friends and teachers from the language school


Our friends invited us to their house for a bbq.


Joel was in charge of the meat feast… This was ten minutes after he’d used an air compressor to blast the coals into action – spraying them all across the floor! it was delicious.


Someone always has a guitar
Somebody generously gave us a bag of clothes to give out to the kids in Cometa and the girls refuge. Another case load turned up soon after this one!

Not so rainy season…

Rainy season in Cochabamba… Has not been that rainy! In fact we have been having record breaking temperatures of 35 degrees (too hot) and just a few thunder and lightning storm downpours. So still shorts and T shirts for us!

Due to our visa, we had to leave the country. We decided to spend a few weeks in Mexico staying at an Air B&B near the beach in December. We had a super relaxing time and celebrated Christmas and Ruth’s birthday with sandy toes, and few mojitos and a view of the sea. 

A new year and a new flat. We sadly had to move out of our lovely flat which we have called home for the last 14 months. Luckily we have found another place about 15 minutes walk from the school. This time we have a view, rather than a brick wall and a tin roof. We thought we would miss the howling dogs, the 2.00 am Mariachi bands and car alarms going off all the time. But rest assured we have dogs, bands and car alarms here too! This is Bolivia after all.

We continue to help at the girls refuge home called Mosojyan. We have been teaching them dramas for them to practice and perform at their events. They are really talented and enthusiastic – always wanting to play the main parts and can mimic all our gestures. The next challenge is now to get them to create their own dramas and encourage them to express their feelings. We accompanied them on a “hike” into the mountains in Parque Tunari. It was, in true Bolivian style, a bit haphazard…. No map… No risk assessment ( what is that? ) no shade… But of course lots of food! After a long slog uphill we found a rocky patch to have lunch, sing songs and play some games. It was such a joy to see these girls having fun, retrieving some of their childhood and leaving their worries and experiences behind them – even just for a short while. We have grown to love them so much. 

One 14 year old girl, said looking at a single wispy cloud in the sky, “Wow look, you can see the sky moving!”

Another replied, “No, it’s the Earth spinning”

She was not convinced that it could be the Earth spinning.

Both were rather confused when we explained that actually it was the wind blowing the cloud across the sky.

Whilst we were away, they had an end of year event at Cometa. We were both sad to miss it as it involved the boys and girls performing special things they had prepared and giving certificates for achievements. We heard about it from Richard and have a few photos to share. Many of the boys said thank you to the volunteers who go in to help and expressed their gratitude for what they learned. The Christmas boxes were a huge surprise! No-one expected anything and they really appreciated the basic toiletries and personal items. They are now all proudly wearing their new sandals and even wanted to prove that they were wearing their new boxers by showing me the elastic tops, which I politely told them was enough… I believed them!

Thank you to those who contributed to the cost of these. Along with local Bolivian churches we were able to buy boxes for 100 boys in Cometa, 12 girls and 20 boys in CAMINO.

Taking a slight break from doing drama in Cometa we decided to help teach basketball with three volunteers from the USA. Our skills are improving, but it is joining in and having fun that seems to speak the most. Even on one of those very rare rainy days here in Cochabamba. We also enjoy playing volleyball with one of the Spanish teachers from our language school, who is a semi professional player and has agreed to go in to help. 

Some of the boys are allowed day release to go to college in the afternoon. They are on summer holiday at the moment, so we are doing some craft activities with them. We have made juggling balls from flour and balloons (thanks Youtube for the idea), friendship bracelets, threaded beads for necklaces, tie dye t shirts and drawing. It is wonderful to see them concentrating on something, focusing on a simple task and it gives us time to chat. One of our most valuable tools here has been our “story cube”. A book without words. The novelty and simplicity of being able to tell the story of Jesus in this way has been remarkable. Some boys want to see it every week and hear the story again and again.

We are busy planning for a visit from a team from Hemel Hempstead called Expressions who are coming out to Bolivia, from 16 March to 6 April. They hope to be able to teach dance, music and drama to the different projects we know here in Cochabamba. We will visit Sucre, where we worked in 2007-09 and co-ordinate with a church in Santa Cruz who do similar work to us in a youth rehabilitation centre. Please pray for them as they prepare for their trip.


We received parcels for Christmas mid January. Thank you Hutchinsons, Holts, Becky, Stan and Mary, Dad and Norwoods. Here Dean is especially pleased with his Branston pickle. It was sensory overload… luckily we have friends to share our goodies with.

Our new view
We get a great view of the mountains surrounding Cochabamba
We bumped into one of the girls M, who has now been released from Cometa . We took her and her sisiter to the cinema for a treat. The popcorn was their favourite part.



We spent Christmas relaxing in Mexico
We travel with style.


For my birthday we went to a place called Cocobongos- recommended by Shyam and Reahn. . It was certainly a night to remember!


These were some of the Christmas boxes ready to be distributed to Cometa.

The girls with their finished tie dye T shirts
The girls with Richard, our new favourite police lady , M, who is really kind, Sarah a student at the language school
Making friendship bracelets

Making juggling balls at Mosojyan


Happy faces



Practice makes perfect



Merry Christmas

Thank you for everyone who has sent us donations for the Christmas boxes we have organised for the kids in Mosojyan and Cometa. We have been shopping in the cancha and been busy wrapping gifts and essentials such as boxer shorts, flip flops, toothpaste and soap, knickers and hairbrushes along with a few goodies.

We know that we have a few parcels in the post, but nothing has arrived since August…so we can wait for a bit longer. But thank you in advance for thinking of us.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas.


Here are the girls at mosojyan (aged 12-17) and their children.


Some essentials for the girls at Cometa


The girls will really appreciate these things


Flip flops and brushes


We made decorations with the boys in Camino. I love the expression on his face, pride, awe and joy.


Christmas crafts with the boys and the staff at the Comunidad drug rehab centre.


Pinch yourself…

Now and again you need to pinch yourself!

For example, when you look around the room and you realise you are surrounded by Judges and lawyers dressed in sharp suits and you are the centre of attention. No, we hadn’t broken the law, we had been invited to give an account of our work with the young offenders to the Prison Fellowship. A team of Christian Lawyers who want to make a difference in the city of Cochabamba.

I met Juana (the team leader) in 1996, on my first trip to Bolivia. She was heading up the Christian Union in those days and has since gone from strength to strength. She worked for the Government for a while and is now a trained lawyer, soon to become a restorative justice judge. She gives so much of her time helping others and trying to change a corrupt judicial system across the whole of Bolivia. The meeting was not something we would have chosen to speak at, but our Bolivian friends seem have a way of getting us involved! The meeting was a great success even though the intimidation element made us struggle with our spanish. In 2016 we maybe taking a few lawyers with us to see what happens in the youth prison at grass roots level.

This is a link to a Youtube video of the work they already are doing in other parts of Bolivia.

Our time at COMETA has been eventful to say the least. Last Sunday whilst visiting the lads I was attacked by a dog. The dog had been there for sometime, and we had given it a wide berth. But without warning it launched itself out of the shadows and sunk it’s teeth into my arm and leg. The shock was like being hit by a baseball bat! After a few seconds of disbelief reality hit home, when I realised how many diseases a bite like that could cause. Not our best moment at COMETA. (We miss the NHS… )

Fortunately the wound was treated fairly quickly and the large dose of antibiotics should scare off any nasties.

It’s so easy to get discouraged when things like this happen as we feel our work is going so well at the moment. We have been impressing the girls with our cooking skills each Wednesday and teaching them about household budgeting and hospitality. We continue to teach the boys Biblical values and self esteem through our weekly drama sessions.

We now know all 90 boys by name and have developed some great relationships. Recently at the end of each session we have been able spend time chatting with them about their feelings, future and spiritual growth. One lad wanted to know how he could have a relationship with God and asked about local churches when he receives his freedom. Freedom and God sound like a great combination to me. These young people are starting to feel like family, and even though it’s great to see some of them leave it’s also difficult to let them go.

Community is a great part of being here in Bolivia, you don’t have to try that hard to feel loved or a part of a group. There are no age limitations and very often you will find 30-40 year olds attending youth evenings. This is great for me- being in my early 30’s!! There are many church groups that we are now very much a part of. One such group are the Brazilians. We have been friends with Rodrigo for some years now and he leads a church of 200+ Brazilian medical students here in Cochabamba. Unfortunately they have a bit a reputation of being a closed group and not integrating with their Bolivian neighbours. One of our latest challenges was to run a seminar on servanthood for the 20 leaders of Rodrigo’s church… nice easy one! This was an excellent opportunity to practice our Spanish and develop deeper relationships. We split leaders into groups and used drama to break the ice. We also discussed practical ways in which they could serve their community, putting Biblical truths into practice. The evening was a great success. The pastor lead by example by serving us all with huge amounts of pizza – I think he did all the clearing up as well. Little by little…!

As Christmas is fast approaching we are putting together gifts and essentials for the young people we work with. As many do not have parents to visit them, we will be sharing this task with the local volunteers and churches that support the work here in Cochabamba. We are hoping to finish before our visa runs out on the 4th December.

Our next blog will be coming to you from Mexico!

1 John 3:17
If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?

1 Juan 3:17
Si alguien que posee bienes materiales ve que su hermano está pasando necesidad, y no tiene compasión de él, ¿cómo se puede decir que el amor de Dios habita en él?

Thanks for all your support and interest in our work… If you would like to make a donation towards christmas presents for the young people in COMETA (youth rehab centre) and Mosoj Yan (support home for sexually abused girls) please use the bank details below, which is specifically for this purpose.

Barclays Bank Mr D J Such. Sort Code 20-39-07. Account number 50163678

Postal address. Casilla 15. Cochabamba.  Bolivia. South America

Please take a look at the following link. We are now very proud to be ambassadors for Serve Abroad…




At the clinic after being bitten by the dog. The doctor scrubbed at Dean’s arm with pink liquid. We really miss the NHS
Drama about self esteem at Mosojyan, a centre for girls who have been victims of sexual abuse.


Youth night . Some are slightly more “youth” than others!


Our friend Juana helping us during a discussion session


Cooking classes with E. A and L at COMETA …the best bit is tasting the finished dish. Delicious.


The metalwork workshop at COMETA


Working with the Brazilian church leadership



Buena vista …. Un año en Bolivia.

Time flies when you are busy…. We cannot believe we celebrated our one year anniversary here in Bolivia on 25th September.

We returned to COMETA to begin the second phase of our work there. We have been teaching drama and mime alongside team building/ self esteem games. A number of the boys have been released, which is great news, and we hope they will come to the drop in centre which is open once a month. Being here for an extended length of time has given us the opportunity to get to know some of the boys better and find out about their home situation. It is hard to see some of them return to their old lifestyle after being in the rehabilitation centre. It is like there is an invisible elastic band pulling them back. It just shows how much power their addictions have over them and the consequences of not having a structured or stable family life. We saw one of the boys from CAMINO named J, in the park sniffing glue in the middle of the day. He hardly recognised us, even though we had been working with him for months. What would you do? He was asking us for money, saying he was hungry. But we knew if we gave him money he would probably just spend it on drugs. So we went home and made him some soup, bought some bread and a drink. By the time we went back to give it to him – he was gone. The next day we got in touch with the social workers who said they were aware of where he was, but couldn’t force him to go back to CAMINO. Another girl, A, had been released, but had no-one to look after her, so she was sent to the half way house for girls, but escaped and has been caught being involved in a robbery. She is back in COMETA and although it is sad to see her back, she is probably safer there than in her life outside on the streets. Another boy, JC, who has officially finished his sentence, but no-one from his family will come to collect him, so he is stuck in limbo, every day waiting by the gates hoping his Mum or Dad will show up. 

We were asked to run a family day at the rehabilitation centre one Sunday afternoon. This was supposed to create an atmosphere where the parents can spend time with their children and participate in games together, creating memories in a positive environment. So we created a fun quiz, got them to construct wobbly towers from spaghetti and marshmallows, played games and Richard took refreshments. It was lovely to see the parents join in, laughing and smiling with the young people. Often the atmosphere on visitors day is pretty painful, but the event ended with many parents thanking us publicly for our work. 

Our neighbour here, Anna, is the country director for the charity Tearfund. She received a team of UK volunteers who partner with Bolivian young people on local projects. She asked us to run a drama training day. We said yes, of course! It was fun to work with UK volunteers (with the luxury of speaking English and having a translator for the Bolivian young people!) They will be working with HIV and AIDS education, abused women and children  from disadvantaged backgrounds. By the end of two hours we had oscar winning performances and lots of laughter. Drama really is a great way of communicating a message – especially if you are willing to laugh and not take yourself too seriously.

After a lot of prayer and thought we have decided to stay here until March/ April next year. Even though our visa runs out in December, we have worked out that we can leave the country for a few weeks and come back as tourists for 90 days. This means we will have a bit more time to prepare for a team coming from Hemel Hempstead – Expressions. Please support them as much as you can…

We were really pleased when two new projects came our way recently. One was a girls refuge called Mosoj Yan. This is a place where girls can go to live if they have been sexually abused and have a baby. The girls are aged between 12-17. They have counselling and activities on site. They learn how to look after themselves and their babies. We have been invited to teach drama as a way of discussing principals from the Bible and self esteem. We can be much more evangelistic here as the organisation is run by Christians. So far they have been really enthusiastic and responded positively. By far the hardest thing for us is seeing the scars from self harm running up their arms – these girls are so young.

A small Christian school have partnered with our volunteer organisation, Serve abroad ( and are interested in receiving teacher training. So I have volunteered to “Adopt a Teacher” which is basically being a mentor to a teacher. Her name is Belen (Bethlehem) and she teaches year 3. It has been interesting so far. I have been observing lessons and giving feedback. Now we are sharing some ideas and team teaching. It will also involve doing some staff training over the next couple of months.

Last weekend we went to hike the Choro trail from La Paz to Coroico. This is an Inca built trail starting at El Cumbre (4100m) climbing to 4900m and passing over the mountain summit then descending to Chairo at 1200m. We did this hike 7 years ago with our friend Caz, but this time we went with Mauge our Spanish teacher and a number of other students from the language school. So armed with our tents, water and supplies for three days hiking we set off. It was a real adventure. We only saw two other groups on the trail – apart from the llamas and condors. We remembered it all being downhill, but obviously we had selectively forgotten about the steep inclines and slippery steps aptly named the Steps of Diablo. After walking 21 km on day 1, 17 km on day 2 and 16 km on day 3 we finished feeling shattered with aching knees and a few blisters and bug bites to show for our achievements. The scenery was spectacular.

We now have a few weeks ahead to continue with our work. We are hoping to make up a number of Christmas boxes for the boys in the youth centre and the girls at the refuge, so if you would like to donate towards that then please let us know.  Our account for donations is Barclays, Mr D J Such 20-39-07. Account number 50163678

Thanks for taking an interest in what we are up to here in Bolivia. We always love to hear from friends and family back home so leave a message to keep in touch. Our postal address is Ruth and Dean Such, Conexiones entre mundos. Casilla 15, Cochabamba, Bolivia. Packages take about 8 weeks!!


Dinner out with one of our Spanish teachers. The lovely Ingrid.


Getting everyone involved in the Spagetti tower game



Oh it’s so much easier to do these things in English… what a luxury!


Games at Cometa


In da jungle…
We were able to give out some little puppets along the way. (Thanks MP for sending us this little owl)

Pura Vida

You may have been wondering why we haven’t posted recently, or where we have been hiding for the past six weeks. Well, we had always planned to take a short break in August to Costa Rica and Panama to see the sea and relax together.

We managed to rent a small beach hut in a surfers community called Santa Teresa. It was really cool. Full of trendy surfers and toned beach bums… We fitted right in! 

It was nice to walk along white beaches with no one in sight, massive waves and palm trees. We had a surf lesson. Both decided it is not as easy as it looks! White water rafting in class III/IV rapids and seeing monkeys, iguanas and frogs at Manuel Antonio National Park.

We then travelled by bus across the boarder into Panama driving on the Pan America highway. We spent a few days in Boquete to go jungle trekking before moving on to Panama City to meet up with our friends Kevin and Charlotte Norwood. Together we had fun driving around and exploring the famous canal and tropical beaches. 

When we got back to Bolivia we only had four days rest before we welcomed our friends Judith and Paul Hutchinson from Hertfordshire. They had bravely decided to put on their backpacks and come to visit. We had planned to accompany them on a few trips to help with the Spanish and show off why we love Bolivia so much. Paul’s carefully set out, planned spreadsheet was soon tested by Bolivian craziness and all our plans changed when their flight was delayed 24 hours. But un deterred we went to La Paz, Isla Del Sol and Copacabana, Sucre and they ventured off to the Salt flats of Uyuni and Torotoro national park by themselves.

The best part of having visitors here was definitely being able to take them to our projects. We had the privilege of seeing some of the children in Horno Kasa who we have worked with 7 years ago. They had gathered together after walking for and hour and a half to get to school in the morning. (There had been a transport strike that day). We played a game of “Dobble” and then they all started singing worship songs for us, in Spanish and in Quechua. It was amazing. When we worked with them every afternoon back in 2008, we never really saw how it was going to make a difference. But it did, and each one has a real relationship with God and they were able to express themselves so clearly to us.

We also took our guests into the youth prison as we wanted to give one of the boys, W, a cake, card and photo for his 18th birthday. It was a total surprise for him and no photo could capture the look on his face. We had a tour of the facilities and met a number of the guys and girls. 

Having guests here made us both realise how normal some things have become to us. Shopping in the cancha, being bombarded by smells and noises, squashing into a trufi bus without seat belts, waiting – for everything, kids playing in the streets, the cobbled roads and the adobe houses. Being with Judith and Paul has made us look at things in a fresh way once again.

Bolivia is beautiful. The people are so lovely…. Come and visit us!! Such and Such tour agency is open for business.


Surfer’s paradise


Public transport all the way. Bus, ferry, bus, walk, bus…
Backpackers, travelling on a shoestring


Dean surfing


Jungle trekking in Boquete, Panama. we got totally lost. It started the rain. We saw all sorts of spikey plants and Dean was Bear Grylls!


Exciting rapids… Ruth has the blue helmet on, Dean is the one with his eyes shut


Panama hats in Panama


Really interesting visit to the Panama Canal


One of these massive ships can be lifted 9 m in just 8 minutes. The little locomotives hold it in place. Guess how much it costs for a ship to pass through? A staggering $100,000- $400,000 per ship!
Relaxing with Kevin and Charlotte at the hostel in El Valle. ( With the tattoo artists from mexico, the round the world motor bikers from Sweeden, the dating agent from Colombia and the pool cleaning guy from Memphsis)


Our buddies


Back in Bolivia. La Paz


The bus got its own ferry. We all got off to catch a llittle boat on Lake Titicaca to get to Copacabana


Paul and Judith Hutchinson who bravely agreed to visit us.


The Island of the Sun on Lake Titicaca. The Incas believed this was the birth place of the sun. The terraces used to grow crops are ancient. No roads, just Inca trails. No cars, just donkeys. No light pollution, just stars. No noise.


It was a 45 minute walk to our Eco Lodge. So this lovely donkey carried our bags.


The Eco Lodge was stunning. Palla Khasa. Ok so there were no plugs… but this is Bolivia


The view


We hiked around the whole island, 18 km at 4100m above sea level.



These inca ruins were amazingly well preserved. So peaceful and silent.


It’s all about the food

The Kewina drama team

We love the Bolivian culture very much, but there are some differences that are just so hard to deal with when you’re a Brit…

Last month we were asked to lead a night of drama and evangelism for 120 prison children and their mothers at Camp Kewiña. The prison system here in Bolivia is quite different from England. Whole families are expected to live inside the prison whilst the husband/father serves his sentence. The camp is an amazing opportunity for mothers and their children to get away and have some quality time together.

We had organised our team, practiced most of our dramas and we all had brand new T-shirts. All we had left to do was run through the programme and a few more practices before the event. Being typically task orientated we didn’t really understand what was coming next… Bolivians normally arrive within half an hour to an hour of the allocated time so we were very pleased to see our team arrive a few minutes early ready for our 2 hour journey into the mountains. 

Ten of us squashed ourselves into the truck and greeted the driver who had just turned 18. We were also introduced to two totally NEW members of the team who we had never met before? hmmm… 
The Bolivians were armed with bags full of food, ice creams and drinks and were up for a full on party atmosphere that was to last the whole two hours. Any notion of organising the programme literally flew out of the window with the orange peel and banana skins! I remember thinking that it’s amazing how fun and laughter so easily comes at the top of the list in Bolivia. Maybe we have a lot to learn?

We were very thankful that we had made it to the first police check point, as the driver had been compensating for the lack of front wheel tracking for the last 15km and he also seemed a bit worried that he wasn’t allowed to carry this amount of people. This became more apparent when he asked his passengers if anyone had a licence he could borrow to show the police! One licence was handed over as though this was a normal everyday request. (As there is such corruption within the police force here, many Bolivians find it easy to adopt a ‘them’ and ‘us’ mentality).

We arrived at Kamp Kewina in the pitch black and it was to stay that way until our presentation. Apparently there is no electricity until 7pm in these parts! Our practice session began and ended in the dark with a few cell phones as spot lights. The programme itself was scrutinised beyond belief as each team member insisted on adding another drama to the list. Dramas and skits that we had never heard of until this point and were never mentioned in any of the eight rehearsals beforehand. Trying to explain that we didn’t have time or that this was totally unprofessional was weighed against the teams enthusiasm and spontaneity. Unfortunately professionalism was lost somewhere along the way and chaos ensued! 

Dinner by candlelight was a welcome  break at this point as we filed into the dining hall to meet the happy campers. As we were chewing on the food that we couldn’t see before us, the camp leader told us that we may not have electricity at all and that we should only choose the dramas ‘without music’ to perform by torchlight. Once this was agreed in a frenzy by the team a miraculous event occurred. The lights came on and then suddenly went off again. One of the prison lads gave us a cheeky grin with one mischievous finger on the light switch… We showed him as much love as we could before escorting him to his seat at the table.

The performance was back on. Two hours of non stop drama and evangelism – nothing else could go wrong…
Apart from the leader of the camp forgetting to tell us that we were to be judges for a gladiator competition and that there would be a 20 minute movie: the evening was a great success. Seeing the amazement on the children’s faces somehow made it all worth it. Most of these young lives had never seen  drama before and were hearing about God’s love for the fist time. Bolivians have this amazing ability to pull it out of the bag at the last minute and it would seem they live to enjoy the whole chaotic journey along the way. It guess it gives them stories to tell, like I have told this one… and life is most certainly lived to the full. 

Even though at times we feel frustrated and completely out of our comfort zone as Brits, I just know we will be doing more of the same sometime very soon.

Prison Break
As we will be travelling over August the staff and inmates at COMETA decided to give us a farewell party until we meet again in September. The afternoon’s activities revolved around food yet again. We were able to provide each person with some cake, empanadas, yuca cuñapes and drinks. The young people performed  dramas and gave speeches. 

One lad thanked us for coming in every week to spend time with them. He said that they are the forgotten ones, young people that no one likes to hang out with and he thanked us for loving them. After lots of tears and hugs we were presented with hand made cards and a certificate of gratitude from the prison staff. We have been overwhelmed with their reaction to us and this was an awesome end to our first term programme.
The bus party… all about the food.

Drama face paints
Thanking the Lord for electicity as the crowds gather
Explaining the message of our dramas


The children frrom Casa d Amistad
Milenka ready for our “Superhero sketch”
Recent snow in the mountains, with palm trees
all the hand made cards we were given. and the slabs of cake they made for us.
Translated as, “We have you in our hearts, with lots of love from the Communidad group.” or maybe. “We will have you in our hearts”…. it is the subjunctive…. i think?


After our trip to the Camp we were asked to run another training course for their young leaders and volunteers. This was a great success and over 50 students came to the Camp Headquarters just in front of our house.


Prison mural updates

It’s not quite time lapse photography, but we can now proudly show what we’ve been up to with the boys in CAMINO for the past few weeks. Cannot really show photos which identify them. So apologies for the lack of happy faces. Trust us when we say they were all happy to participate and were really pleased to be included. The team included the boys who had moved into the communidad section. Which means it they have shown improvements in attitude and consistent behaviour. Painting has a lovely calming effect and super opportunities to chat.

One boy, whom we have nicknamed “tough nut” but we now know is called JL, told me that in the future he wanted to teach people how to make good choices. I asked him what advice he would give to himself if he could travel back in time to talk to himself 5 years ago. What he said was; choose your friends carefully, do not follow others when you know it is wrong, study and listen to your elders. 

I guess it is the same all over the world. The challenges young people face. 


End of day 1


End of day 2

Using the data projector to trace the outlines




End of day 4
The dream team


End of day 5… with all those who “helped”



 The finished mural…  They are now thinking of using this space for kids to do their homework and study. At the moment they have a really dark, gloomy room. The only trouble is they don’t have any money to buy tables and chairs. 

Return to Sucre

There are times when words cannot express how you feel. You feel like your voice has just evaporated and your vocal cords have been paralysed by some strange force.

That is how we felt last week. When we saw Yolanda and Alvaro.

When we were here in 2007-2009 we spent a lot of time in a district of Sucre called Horno Casa. We painted, we cleaned, we built paths, we taught Bible stories, we helped with homework, we taught them about healthy food and basic health, we pushed our way past the piggies, served a healthy snack and bought them some books, which they proudly called their “library”.

So last week we went back to visit the project with Phil and Jan Train. Although the project has moved locations numerous times, they still provide a place for the kids to go and do their homework and study every day. Our little collection of books has grown into a bookcase full of study aids. The tables and chairs we bought have survived. They now have their own cooker to prepare a healthy snack every day. We were blown away by the sheer resilience and faithfulness of the two volunteer workers who serve this desperately poor community.

Then it was one of the double take moments… One of the young people smiled at me and in an instant we recognised her as one of the little kids we worked with in 2007. Her name is Yolanda. She has been using the education centre every day as a place where she can do her homework. She is now in the last but one year of high school, having passed every year. (Here in Bolivia you are held back a year of school if you do not pass the end of year exams… So some children can be 7 or 8 and still be in kindergarten, if they do not get the support they need.)

Yolanda then took out a photo from her backpack. It was a picture of us that she had kept from 2009 and the children’s Bible we gave to each of the kids when we left. We both had tears in our eyes as we looked at her, then read the message we’d written in the front cover, then looked at the battered and dog-eared pages of this precious book. She was so happy to see us. So proud of what she’d achieved and we were overcome with emotion. At the time, with our limited Spanish and resources, we were never sure how much of a difference we were making. But Yolanda showed us another photo of her group of friends and was beaming as she told us that one was at university, one had graduated from school, another had a job. It was amazing.

Then another teenager, came and gave us a massive bear hug. Alvaro. He told us he is still at school, wants to be an engineer, loves maths, has ambitions to be a professional footballer – maybe for Chelsea- and remembers the dramas we used to do. 

We also had the chance to see old friends at CCE church. We tried explaining that we were there on ‘holiday’ and were aiming to have a bit of a rest, but nevertheless we spoke at the church on Sunday morning, did two dramas at the church on Sunday night, led a group for university students and did two drama workshops for the youth night. Busy but fun. We also managed to see friends for our favourite Bolivian snack, saltañas, and climb onto the roof of one of the oldest churches. Don’t be fooled by the blue sky and sunshine. Sucre was pretty chilly. In fact we wore thermals the whole time. It was so nice to catch up with our dear friends Phil and Jan Train who totally spoilt us rotten with their generous hospitality and kindness.

We then had a slight change of plan and decided to go to a small town called Corocio for a few days. This is the place at the end of the famous Death road which Top Gear drove up on their Bolivia special. We have heard too many stories of people falling off the edge to cycle or travel down that one. Instead we went in a local minibus with a coca leaf chewing driver hurtling around the corners of the new multi-million dollar tarmac road. Marginally safer.. But only just. We stayed at a hostal which had individual bamboo cabins and treehouses. It was lovely. Proper bathrooms and glass in the windows to keep out the bugs. Dean decided to go all Bear Grylls and we hiked through the jungle and he started a campfire each night with just his flint… No matches allowed! The views were spectacular. But again pretty chilly. It is middle of winter here at the moment.

  With Yolanda in 2015, holding our photo from 2009 and her Bible.


Yolanda in 2007 with her Christmas presents.


Yolanda with her little sisters in 2009

  With tears in our eyes… The library can be seen in the background.

  At Horno Casa where the children do their homework every day.

  With Phil looking at the new plot of land they have bought.


   The friendly youth group at CCE church.

  Our lovely friends Elenir and Hugo


On the plaza. Shamelessly posing as tourists.

 I love the central market. My old casera was there, but didn’t recognise me.😥


  With Daniel Arostigi… Seriously upping of coolness for the day!

  Banny, who used to teach us Spanish, was very impressed how much we’ve improved. Or was she just being gorgeously kind as usual?

 Jan. What more can we say…. We love you!




  Happy wedding anniversary meal. XX


 A few pictures from our break in Corocio. It was cold. But the views were spectacular.

We are self funding our trip here this time. We are able to give any donations directly to the projects we work with when they identify needs. If you would like to make a donation please use the bank details below, which is specifically for this purpose.

Barclays Bank Mr D J Such. Sort Code 20-39-07. Account number 50163678

Postal address. Casilla 15. Cochabamba.  Bolivia. South America