Lights… Camera…action

Back in February we had our first meeting with the SEDEGES co-ordinator and Richard. After a bit of a slow start, due to about 100 “meetings”, we began working in the two rehabilitation centres here in Cochabamaba. As our Spanish has gradually improved we have learnt more about the system here in Bolivia. We committed to a twelve week program at both the drug rehabilitation centre and COMETA, which is like a prison, but they don’t like to call it a prison.

We had our twelfth session with the drug rehabilitation boys last week. We took some games and goodies to share, but we had an unexpected surprise. They had prepared a drama for us. They acted out a series of scenes from their lives.

Scene one… Glue sniffing on the streets, huddled around a plastic bag full of fumes, trying to keep warm. They see a woman with a mobile phone, they decide to try and rob her.

Scene two… The police catch them, throw them on the floor, roughly push them against the wall. Hit them, beat them up, kick them. Grab one and take him to the cells. The others make a run for it.

Scene three… Back to glue sniffing. Two of the social workers come and chat to them and ask them their ages. Invite them to come to the rehabilitation centre. Describe it as a place they will be safe, sleep in a bed, have enough food and can get their lives back on track. Some of the boys go with them. Some say no and stay in the streets.

Scene four… In the centre. Group sessions. Education. Drama. Games. Dances. Washing clothes. Chatting to the staff.

Scene five… One year later… The boys are walking down the street and they see the social workers. They rush up to them and give them massive hugs. Tell them that they are going to college. One has a job in a restaurant. Really thankful for all their help. 

Scene six… Turn the corner and see their old friends, still hanging around on the street, sniffing glue and trying to rob or beg for money. They try and tell them they should agree to go to the rehabilitation centre to change their lives.

Now it’s not likely to win an Oscar or anything. But it was amazing to see that they had actually practiced something. We had been trying to teach them about empathy and trying to see that their actions have consequences. We felt so proud that they could think how other people could feel and the simple past- present- future was such a success. The staff of the centre were amazed to see how the kids could express their feelings. During the twelve weeks there were times when we all felt that it was just crowd control. It was definitely on the chaos side of control. But looking back maybe something did sink in.

One boy “J” told us afterwards that his life was like the drama. He wanted to stay at the centre for as long as possible. He thanked us for giving up our time to help. He said that he’d enjoyed the drama and games. He had never done anything like that before. Then asked with a cheeky smile if we knew any agents in Hollywood!

J is likely to move up a stage soon to go to another section called Communidad. This gives him freedom to go out to college during the day and learn more life skills in preparation for life outside, including cooking, growing vegetables and a practical skill. We’ll keep you posted on his progress.



We also had the chance to help train some student volunteers who serve at camp Kewiña. We did the first of a series of drama workshops. They had tonnes of creative ideas. We loved the motorbike handlebars and the traffic accident scene!



Some of the boys at COMETA have moved up a stage to the community program. We went to see their graduation ceremony.



People say food is the international language of friendship, so we were delighted to invite some of the staff from COMETA  to our house for dinner. The banoffee pie was a great success… And the mojitos too!



Thank you to all the people who have sent us parcels this month. We had a lovely surprise of chocolate, tea bags and rhubarb and custards? Thanks DK for the malaria tablets. You are a star.


We had our first, but hopefully not our last, guests from the UK. Ellie and James from Hemel Hempstead came to visit.


It was Mother’s Day here in Bolivia this month and we did a special event for the children and their parents at Centro de Apoyo y Amistad.  Snazzy new Tshirts with our “Expresiones” logo on them.


The weather in Cochabamba continues to be glorious.  



Thank you to everyone for your continued thoughts and prayers. We really appreciate your support. 

If you would like to donate towards our work here in Bolivia please use the details below.

Fundraising account MR D J SUCH

Barclays  20-39-07

Account number 50163678

Our postal address is: Dean and Ruth Such

C/O Conexiones entre Mundos, Casilla 15. Cochabamba, Bolivia. South America

Inside Out…

A whole month has past since our last blog. Since then we have made more friends, performed more dramas, painted a mural, been bitten by more mosquitos and deepened our relationships in the youth prison. I can now almost get away with wearing a base ball cap and greeting people with a fist punch, even though our street language leaves a lot to be desired; the young people can tell that we love them so we tend to get away with it.

Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoon we are greeted at the gates by a different policeman, our bags are no longer checked as they are used to seeing our faces. As the light breaks through the gates our gaze turns to the shadows as this is where the ‘newbies’ sit waiting to have their heads shaved. Many have come from the streets and have head lice, many have sores around their face from the glue sniffing and drug abuse. They glance up at us, and in the back of your mind you realise that you would think twice before approaching them on the outside, but a stretched out hand and a few kind words softens their tough exterior. You start to wonder why they have been sent here and what crimes they may have committed. But generally we don’t ask as this helps us to treat each one as an equal. We know that they need to face up to what they have done at some stage, but it’s far easier to keep the judgement to one side whilst getting to know them.

We usually spend the next 15 minutes wandering round the site. The prison has high walls and barbed wire to keep everyone in, but it’s not like any prison we have seen or even heard of in UK. Sometimes the atmosphere feels a bit like a youth camp, only the young people are more polite and better behaved here!

By now all the 80-90 inmates and staff know us quite well and as we walk we can hear the names Dino, Ruth and Ricardo being shouted from across the ‘cancha’. We are greeted with hugs, hand shakes and fist punches whilst some of the inmates try out their latest English phrases on us. “Smoke weed”, “Hello mate” and “Hello baby” seem to be their favourites. The more astute have now figured out that two of these greetings are gender specific… which is a bonus.

Once the guards realize we have arrived it’s not long before role call is in full swing in the blazing heat of the day and the young people are selected to join our session. At this point we prepare the hall and start to fully rely on the prayers we have have just said in the taxi beforehand…

The young people have responded well to the sessions, we are now about half way through. We concentrate on one theme per week for example; friendship, life choices, self control, citizenship, community, self worth. Each Bible based session focuses on one big question, a drama performance, a discussion and team games.

At first some of them just wanted to watch but now most, if not all, are fully engaged with the drama and are sharing their thoughts with the rest of the group. It can be quite tough when you feel you are making progress, then you hear that some have escaped back to the streets. Recently one of the girls that escaped a few months ago returned. She was found by the police with a gang that hangs out near the cemetery. It seems that her family don’t want to be involved. She is back with us now but is suffering the effects of glue sniffing. Slow speech and slow reactions:( It’s hard to know what to do in this situation but a hug and a few kind words brought a smile to her face. We may start seeing  her regularly on visiting days.

Ruth has commented a few times that this work is so far removed from what we have been used to. It certainly isn’t St. Albans High School for Girls! But we are amazed at were God takes us when you make yourself available to Him.

Tonight we are meeting one of the lads who has been through the rehabilitation system. He was perceived as the ‘head honcho’ when we met him in November. He was released a month ago and called my number out of the blue. It sounds like he has his life back on track, but now I guess the hard work starts… We are now trying to link him up with a church we know in Santa Cruz.

We would love to show you some images of the work but unfortunately we are not allowed to take photos in COMETA the main prison/rehab centre.

Below are some photos of other projects we have been involved with in the past month:)

If you would like to donate towards our work here in Bolivia please use the details below.
Fundraising account
Barclays  20-39-07
Account number 50163678
Thank you for your continued interest and support.

Another exciting night of Street Drama:)



We were asked to perform a evening of drama at Camp Kewina. 120 Young people from Emanual College. An amazing 2 day trip out in the countryside.
Joel, Milenka, Ruthie, Karla, Daniella.
Traveling to the camp.
We also volunteered our services to paint Camp Kewina’s new sign.



The finished product!
The finished product!
Enjoying the amazing countryside at Kewina.
Time spent at the Girls home in San Benito.
One of our many favourites:)
Birthday parcels! Only 2 weeks late…
Celebrating Dean’s Birthday. 31 again!
Thanks Daniella. Saving the Cadburys Chocolate for best!
Nearly finished! Just the waves and the mice to paint…





Hope not Dope…

We were asked to paint a mural at the children’s centre called “Centro de Amor y Amistad”. From the selection we gave them, Joanna and her family chose a Noah’s Ark design. We have been there a few times and it is almost finished. Probably the largest wall we have painted to date. There are about 110 children who go there every day to do their homework and have a healthy snack. Everyday we get asked 110 times by the children with huge smiles, “Estan pintando?”… Are you painting? You can see the progress in the photos below.

Our work in the Youth rehabilitation centre is building momentum. The leadership are going through a process of change and we have been invited to many more meetings (as is the Bolivian way) but the work is progressing well in the drug rehab centre (CAMINO). We have been using drama and mime as a way of teaching values and opening up discussions. This is much like a church youth group or circle time, but here the education system is so different. They have no PSHE or citizenship curriculum, so it is the first time for many of them to share their problems and listen to each other. Thankfully we have been building up a great team of Bolivian volunteers who have been coming with us… And of course our secret weapon… Richard, who seems to know everyone and shakes the hand of anyone!

So for the past five weeks we have been working at CAMINO. Apparently there are two sides to this centre. One is for young people about to re-enter society and the other for those that have just come in off the streets. By accident we reported to the wrong place! They enjoyed our sessions so much that they didn’t want us to leave, so the programme has changed! Whilst we have been working here we have found out a little more about their situations…

Glue sniffing is a huge problem here in Bolivia. Children, some as young as nine, can be seen sniffing glue on the streets, in the parks and under the bridges near the river. They do this as it suppresses their feeling of hunger, cold and the sensation is described as being drunk but causes serious brain damage. It is highly addictive and leads to other drugs which are widely available. In CAMINO they go through a withdrawal program. We go in on a Thursday afternoon (and sometimes Saturdays to teach chess). It is often hard to motivate them to participate in games and drama, but once they join in they really enjoy it. We started off with simple dramas and themes based on Biblical values and now many are sharing their thoughts and feelings. Last week we gave each one a balloon to write on. We asked them to write elements of their past that they thought controlled their lives. We were surprised that some of them not only wrote about drugs and sex but also about relationships with their families that had caused deep wounds. Each one in turn burst their balloons as a sign of leaving the past and looking ahead. It’s tough work as we need to go at a slow pace and build up trust. It was also quite sad to hear that three boys had escaped recently. These were lads that we felt were making lots of progress, but now the most likely outcome is that they are back to life on the streets:(

Also had a chance this week to design our new logo. For the work that we have called ‘Transformation’. Take a look below. We have been given permission to show photos now. 

Our Drama group at Belen every Wednesday continues to thrive and we had two presentations this month. One performance was successfully executed in the main plaza and another at Buenas Nuevas School. This was by far our biggest crowd to date with 500 students cheering us on for more. Both Dramas had a powerful impact. The first was based on the dangers of drugs and Aids and the second was based on the Easter message. It felt good to be involved in Schools work once again.










Drama workshops  









School drama presentation





If you would like to donate towards our work here in Bolivia please use the details below.

Fundraising account

Barclays  20-39-07

Account number 50163678

Thank you for your continued interest and support.

Rehab…. But not as we know it…

If anyone had said to us six months ago that we would be working in a youth prison, I don’t think I would have believed them. But God has a funny way of guiding us and preparing us for what He wants us to do.

Over the past few weeks we have had many meetings with the youth rehabilitation centre on the outskirts of Cochabamba. They don’t like to call it a prison, but that is what it literally is. The young people have been convicted of crimes and do not have the freedom to leave… So it is prison…. But not as we know it.

The leaders have asked for our continued help and drama sessions even to the point where they would like us to give some training to the staff.

One centre is called Camino (which means Walk or the Way). This centre is for young people that have been living on the streets and have different drug addictions, but in the main they are glue sniffers or ‘cleferos’ as they are called here in Bolivia. We have been going in once a week, using drama sketches to build their self esteem and teach values. After each session they have been really willing to chat about their feelings and reflect a little on the morals and their own experiences. It is early days, and obviously it takes time to build up a level of trust. But with our team of Bolivian volunteers we think that this is a great way to show them how much God loves them and make changes to their outlook on life.

The second centre is called San Benito. This is a half way house/young people’s home. The young girls, aged 13 to 18, that leave the prison and have no home to go to other than the street usually live here. This is quite a long journey out of town – about an hour and a bit, so we are not sure if we can go every week. But we would love to build on the relationships that we have already started here. Unfortunately, one of the girls we had known from the start has escaped from this place, we are quite sad that we may not see her again. We are praying for a chance meeting on the street.

After our meetings with the leaders we have committed to a 12 week programme with the 80 boys in the prison. Many of these young men have been involved in drug trafficking, drug use, gangs, sexual abuse, violence or rape. They all have a sentence of between three months and three years. Most of these lads have never had teaching on citizenship or community values and again we believe that using drama will help teach valuable lessons and form part of their restorative justice program. It is really challenging but we feel it is the place were we need to be.

The team:
Milenka: Loves drama, a five foot one bundle of fun.
Carla: Team member and qualified psychologist
Carla number 2: member of our drama team and physiotherapist.
Mauge: Our Spanish teacher, she will be helping with a nutrition and cooking course
Jesse: Son of the pastor and drama leader.
Daniella: Amazing worship leader and song writer/chef
Richard: Latin Link Strider. Opened all the doors into the prison for us. Basically his name is our password to enter through the gates!

Matthew 25 vs 38-40 . This is a verse which has been on our minds since we got here.
When did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

Our postal address is
Ruth and Dean Such
C/o Conexiones entre mundos
Casilla 15

Fundraising account:
Mr D Such
Sort code 20 39 07
Account no. 50163678
(Any donations will be used to serve the different projects we are involved with).

Unfortunately we are not allowed to show any faces of the young people due to security risks.




Every week Richard brings food for the new prisoners in the cells. Newly arrested prisoners are not fed by the staff and it is up to each family to provide food for their own. Unfortunately may come here from the street and do not have family.





Living la vida loca

We’ve never been to Carnival in Bolivia before, so we decided this year it was time for us to venture to Oruro for the February festival.
We went with our friend Juana, who has family who live along the parade route. It was quite an experience. Literally thousands and thousands of dancers and musicians lined the streets as far as you could see. The parade started at 7.30 in the morning and went on until about 5.30 the following morning. Then they swapped the order and it all started again until midnight the next day. The dancers came from all over Bolivia and were from different societies and communities. For example the truck drivers had a brass band and a dancing group, the university students, the miners, the people who live on the floating islands on Lake Titicaca. All jumping and swaying and crashing about with cymbals, bells and feathers, knee high boots and short skirts!
I guess the pictures do not do it justice, but are a flavour of what it was like.
Thank you for your continued support. Please leave a message.












Oh… And no-one told us about the foam!!! Sprayed at random, at everyone, all the time during carnival… Especially at us poor gringos trying to take a sneaky selfie!


Carnival continued when we went to the youth rehabilitation centre and the chicos decided to throw Dean into the mud pit and drench him with water!


Home from home….

I have always wanted to go to Patagonia. Just the name sounds so interesting and wild. Patagonia. We never managed to make any long trips last time we were in Bolivia due to Latin Link rules, but our current mission organisation is more flexible.
We travelled to Buenos Aires and then Bariloche in the northern Lake District of Patagonia. Flying across Argentina, it was as if it had been ironed flat. Just miles and miles of pampas grass lands. Then suddenly, out of nowhere mountains appeared.
We stayed in a log cabin which we rented through Air B and B. It had gorgeous views through the trees to Lake Nahuel Huapi. We took the advice from our hosts and found lovely walks through the woods to the lake, stopping at viewpoints and reaching the summits of various peaks. The views were spectacular.
We spent a day kayaking with Santiago, our host, in his three person kayak.
A wonderful experience. Paddling through crystal clear water, with perfect reflections and not a sound except the lapping of water. We loved it.
We even stumbled across a Welsh tea shop and a couple of Welsh sounding places from the early pioneers who went from Wales to settle there.
Home from home…














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Rumble in the Jungle

On the 4th January we flew to a half built airport in the middle of the Bolivian jungle. We had been invited by a Swiss/German mission team who have been working there for the past 70 years. Within minutes of standing on the tarmac beads of sweat started to trace lines down our faces as the 90 percent humidity and 36 degree heat took immediate effect. As we watched our luggage weaving its way through mounds of earth piled on the runway my thoughts strayed to the task ahead. We were billed as the ‘Bibliodrama’ team and our kind hosts had paid for our flights and accommodation. We were to spend 2 weeks teaching drama and creativity to leaders representing 8 different tribes/communities that live in the vast jungle regions of Santa Cruz, Pando, Apollo and the Beni.

We had prepared 6 days of teaching material but really had no idea what to expect, we were even thinking of ‘winging’ the last few days! We soon discovered quite early on that our 40 students were going to be quite a challenge. The problem was, how do you teach drama and mime to a people group when most of them have a very concrete view of the world around them? We learnt that some of these people have no TV, no mirrors, certainly no Internet. One girl we spoke to who’s name was Roseangle had no idea how old she was or which country she belonged to. She looked about 22 and already had five beautiful children.

We had to explain to our new students that the paper heart in the heart sketch was only a representation of a heart and the balloon with SIN written on the front wasn’t actually their sin. To make things easier we somehow managed to write a 13 page manual explaining all the dramas step by step, complete with Bible verses. It felt like doing Spanish homework every morning for 2 weeks solid. In between our morning book writing and afternoon training sessions we had two options open to us. We could either rest in our wooden cabin complete with 2 friendly tarantulas and a mirriad of tree frogs that seemed to enjoy living on the outside of our mesh windows. Actually the tree frogs did enjoy living on the inside as well, as Ruth discovered when 3 of them launched an attack on her head one morning. The screams could be heard for miles, way above the normal hum of the jungle noises.

Or option 2, we could take a trip into town which was an adventure in itself! Most or all of the locals travel by motorbike. Sometimes you will see (to your horror) a whole family on one ‘moto’ with a little baby resting on the handle bars (no helmets of course). The most we counted was six family members… It’s quite worrying how fast sights like this become the norm when you see it every day.

So… the only way into the centre of town was on a 20 minute ride on a moto-taxi. These can be hailed at anytime and at any point on route and when you eventually manage to hoist your leg over the back without burning your calf on the exhaust, you then realise that you are probably not insured to be doing this. So you just hang on for dear life and hope that the hundreds of other motobikes don’t swerve in front of yours as you criss-cross like a school of fish along the wide, red, dusty tracks. I guess the pure exhilaration and the 40p tariff makes it all worth it!

By day 4 our students were really showing promise and we were forging great relationships with the families and their children who would regularly visit our cabin (mainly to see our puppets – who they thought were real).

By this time we were ready to encourage teamwork games in our sessions – one of which involves thinking of the first thing that comes into your head and acting it out – Juan Garcia (to my left) took full advantage if this and in one swift action he had tackled me to the ground! I think he wanted to act out what he does when he goes hunting. It happened so fast that I didn’t even have time to act out the noise of a dying wild bore or an injured tiger, but I tried to encourage him all the same. I just mimed a heart attack and tried not to show the pain. We were told later that this guy was a warrior and has only recently learnt the meaning of forgiveness. Didn’t see that one coming and the bruises have only just cleared up!

By the end of the week we had moved up a level and the students were coming up with their own Bible based dramas. It was so amazing to see their enthusiasm. Our mission director Angelica told us that ‘they would never be the same again’, I hope that’s a good thing! I think she meant that some of them were now able to think in an abstract way. We had no idea how deeply some of them had been moved by the whole experience until one night we had a visit from Juan Garcia and his whole family. I will never forget his sincerity and gratefulness. The course had changed his perspective and he now wanted to use drama in his church and community back home to teach the Bible. To show his appreciation he presented us with handmade bag that had taken him 2 weeks to make. The warrior was now our friend and it was a lot safer to have him on our side:)

Our last night was a wonderful experience as one by one the different teams presented what they had learnt. We were both so very tired but so humbled and proud of what they had all achieved – it’s an experience we will never forget and yet another amazing challenge.

Our hope is that with the use of drama, creativity and a fresh approach to evangelism all the leaders will now be more equipped to reach and teach in new ways and perhaps a deeper level.

Fundraising account:
Mr D Such
Sort code 20 39 07
Account no. 50163678
(Any donations will be used to serve the different projects we are involved with).



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Oops! Caught in the rain again.
Oops! Caught in the rain again.

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Boxes on Boxing Day … Lapiani

A couple of weeks ago we were invited to go on a mission trip. We prayed about it, then agreed, went to a couple of planning meetings, bought supplies… But nothing really could have prepared us for what was, undoubtably, one of the best experiences we have ever had.

Boxing Day. 6.30 am. We arrived at church with our rucksacks and sleeping bags and soon were busy lifting stuff onto the back of a cattle truck (called a caminon). More and more people arrived – Bolivians are without exception always late- until the whole group of 45 had gathered. Enormous saucepans, a cooker, a generator, 20 + sacks of clothes! shoes, huge sacks of toasted maize, food, buckets, bottles of gas, ECG machines… You name it… We took it.

We didn’t know that much about the place we were going. We didn’t really know what we would be doing. Ruth had volunteered to help with hair washing, Dean was in charge of media and videoing.

The bus journey to Lapiani took six hours. Roads like ribbons, twisting on the sided of the mountain, deep gorges and ravines which made you look away. The famous “death Road” in La Paz was nothing in comparison to this… We arrived mid afternoon and started unpacking all the supplies. We had been given permission to use the school. The three classrooms became our kitchen, girl’s bedroom and boy’s room. The primary classroom was converted into a doctors surgery and dentist room. People started working frantically. Setting up the generator as there was no electricty, wiring up light bulbs, carrying buckets of water from the standpipe, boiling water and sweeping the yard. It was crazy. A couple of local people appeared and looked at us with bemused expressions. It was really remote. Only a handful of mud brick houses with tin roofs. We could hardly believe that “hundreds of people” would come the next day.

We spent the afternoon organising goodie bags for the children and hampers full of essentials like oil, sugar, salt, flour, rice and tea for each family. Collectivism in full force.

That night there was a hail storm – about two inches of hail stones. So we built a snowman. It was so cold. Bitter, but we all snuggled down and got some sleep.

The following day we were woken up at 5.30! Clean up and breakfast, ready for action at 8.30…no showers and awful toilets. The girls resorted to putting toilet paper up their noses to block the smell.

From 8.30 to 1.00 we all worked in teams. There were three doctors, medical students and nurses who were doing basic health checks and vaccinations. The dentists were treating cavities and removing teeth. The vets went out and gave every animal a vaccination, vitamins and anti parasite jabs. The hairdressers cut hair. We washed their hair in warm water and combed, plaited and gave them new ties. They all came to have their feet treated, washed in warm water, scrubbed, cut and then brand new shoes fitted.

It was incredible.

Hundreds of people did come…

We had a quick lunch and got ready for games and dramas, which we were involved with. All the children then lined up and we gave each one a goodie bag, with toys, balls and snacks etc. Every adult got given a blanket and a shawl. At about 5.00 we served hot chocolate and these yummy fried aniseed doughnut things. Then after a gospel message was shared by our Quechua pastor; we arranged all the donated clothes in long lines along the playground and there was a free- for- all rummaging for clothes. Words cannot really express the joy and blessing that was shared. Then every family was called forward and they received a plastic bowl, full of things for their family. Earlier in the day I had gone to one of the houses to borrow a stone to grind peanuts. They had no furniture apart from a basic plank and straw beds with a fire smouldering in the corner. I think about our lovely little house back home. Our garden and all the “stuff” we have collected. It was humbling.

It was tricky communicating with the older generation as they only spoke Quechua. But many people from the church can understand and/or speak. That night at midnight Dean surprised me by organising a seranata for my birthday and a few impressive fireworks.

The following day the doctors,dentists and vets continued to do their ministry and the rest of us went out exploring. Dean and I spent a bit of time “turning bulls” and peeling potatoes. Until finally it was time to load the truck and travel back to Cochabamaba. We had to sit on the back and pass out supplies to people on the way back home. It was like being Father Christmas, but instead of Playstations and Ferreo Roche we were giving soap, matches and blankets. Bruised, battered and burnt we arrived back to the church. A birthday I shall remember.

It was such an honour to be part of this team. They have been visiting different rural communities for 14 years. Just pouring out huge amounts of blessing on each community. It was truly exhausting. I could hardly open my eyes, but you know when you are tired – in a good way- and you just know that something good happened and you are just glad you were part of it.

Happy New Year everyone. Please keep in touch…

Tomorrow we are off the Jungle, no internet for 2 weeks!!

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Feeling a million miles from…

Well… A million miles away from Christmas, from friends, from family and from home really. It is weird. We obviously miss our lovely friends and family but there is a kind of lightness that comes with only having a backpack full of stuff.

We have finally got our visas. It has been such a fiasco. We waited for nine hours in immigration. The system is so inefficient and frustrating. But do not be put off, any visitors can get a 30 or 90 day stamp really easily for free! So if you would like to come out to Bolivia for a trip – let us know and we can start planning.

Our drama team are amazing! They have been so committed to practices and keen to learn lots of sketches. We have been invited to present dramas in the main plaza, at the stadium and at the University. All of these have been great opportunities to talk to people and invite them along to church. Occasionally there is a moment of panic when we realise that somebody is missing and we have to swap roles, but thankfully we practiced with extras who could step in.

The Prison
This month we were invited to run a drama course in a prison/rehabilitation centre for young people. They wanted us to teach Christian values and self worth through drama and games sessions. We didn’t know what to expect as we heard some of the young people had been responsible for murder, drug trafficking and other offences. We have been overwhelmed and totally taken by surprise with their response to us. In 3 weeks we have built relationships with 9 teenage girls who come from various backgrounds but mainly from extreme poverty and abusive families/situations. The first time we met the group one of them asked if we could be their new mum and dad (we had to hold back the tears – seriously). I think it shows some of the deep needs of these young  lives. Parents are welcome to visit, but not many come.

Slowly the girls are sharing little bits of information about their lives. It seems obvious that many have been neglected both physically and emotionally. The prison staff and guards seem to really care for these young people and are doing their best to teach them new skills and coping devices for life on the outside. They even have access to knives, drills, hammers and soldering equipment which is amazing. But reality hits home when each young person is searched after our visits and locked up for the night.

We never thought that our new youth group would be inmates in prison!

As we now have our visas we want to dedicate much more of our time to the youth prison and in February we want to run a programme for the boys with whom we have already made some good connections. Richard, our friend from England has made some headway with “the boys from the hood”! Looking forward to the challenge…

This week the prison had a Christmas presentation with different groups performing dance, drama and music. It felt like we were at a youth camp for while and the girls performed a drama that we had been working on (sorry not allowed to take photos). The girls put there all into the performance as the whole prison watched in silence. I will never forget the look on the girls faces as we stood in a circle and one by one they thanked us for going in and sharing our lives with them. Awesome time! 

We are now starting to gather a team of Bolivians so that we can build networks for these young people in the future and we would also like to set up a drop in centre for when they leave the prison. The whole prison experience has been a totally unexpected and awesome journey for us – please keep us in your prayers.

Christmas Diary
Our Christmas diary for this year:
(Please remember us as you tuck in to your Christmas pud).

Dinner on the 24th with our spanish teacher Mauge. Chicken and chips with banoffe pie. No turkeys here I’m afraid:(

Christmas morning: calling home to speak with family and friends.
(Bolivians celebrate Christmas at midnight on the 24th).

Boxing day: 3 day mission trip on to the community of Piana with Belen church and the drama team. (Piana is way out in the mountains).
Deans duties: Drama evangelism and filming the trip.
Ruth’s duties: hair washing and cutting, feet scrubbing and toasting marshmellows.

4th January: Journey to the Jungle. 2 weeks working with a tribe in Riberalta in Pando. (This one will be quite an adventure in 80% humidity – no internet contact for 2 weeks).

Thanks for reading our update. We would like wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thanks for all your messages and parcels. We have a few parcels which have just arrived which we are saving for Christmas day:)

with love from Dean & Ruth.

Fundraising account:
Mr D Such
Sort code 20 39 07
Account no. 50163678
(Any donations will be used to serve the different projects we are involved with).


5 minutes after we received our visas after a 9 hour wait in immigration…


University students. 4 hours of dancing through the streets of Cochabamba.
University students. 4 hours of dancing through the streets of Cochabamba.
The good old Heart Sketch performed on the day of the pedestrian.
The good old Heart Sketch performed on the day of the pedestrian.
Getting ready for street drama…
Ruth and Belen.


Jesse getting ready to play Satan.
Alisia’s wedding day. One of our favourite spanish teachers. With all the spanish school students.
Some great friends from Church. Melinka is helping us in the prison now and Joel cooks a mean BBQ. Look at the size of that steak!
Outside the youth prison. Richard, Ruth and Milenka. Unfortunately we are not allowed to take photos inside.
Christmas presents for the girls in the prison. Suggested items by the prison guard. Thanks to AFC youth for the donation:)


Ruth making blankets for the Bolivian ladies in Piana.


Hot Hot Hot… Ho ho ho…

It doesn’t feel much like Christmas at the moment because it is so hot (29 degrees)! Apart from a few lights in the plaza we haven’t heard anyone talk about Christmas yet. Which is a bit weird. This evening we are going with our drama group to perform evangelism in the plaza. We have been working with them since we arrived and they are so enthusiastic.

Although schools have now broken up for Christmas we were invited back to Centro de Amistad y apoyo to do a drama workshop. The children were quite timid to start with, but seemed to enjoy the afternoon. We are hoping to go back in the New year.

Last weekend we were invited to a “Rubbish Dump Lunch”… The church prepared a meal for all the people who work on the rubbish dump, sorting and sifting through the rubbish. They collect valuable items such as glass, plastic bottles and aluminium for recycling.There is an abattoir on the same site, no shade or shelter, and they have no protective clothing. After helping to serve lunch we performed a short drama and spent time chatting. One lovely lady told me about her five children and all thirteen grandchildren, names, birthdays, ages… Each person was given a nice shiny pair of brand new wellies as a gift from the church. They were so happy. It was like giving them gold! They left smiling, clutching their wellies wearing their bowler hats. It was such a privilege to be involved serving some of the poorest people in Cochabamba.

The visa saga continues. We had to send our marriage certificate back to the UK to be stamped at the Foreign Office. When it finally came back we had to go to La Paz to visit the British Embassy, to have it legalised and translated by an official translator. Eight hours on a bus cama (which is a bed bus… But if your thinking Harry Potter you’d be mistaken) we arrived at sunrise. There was torrential rain all day, rivers running down the streets. We managed to go on the new cable car from La Paz up to El Alto, which is on the upper rim of the altiplano. It was a pretty cool way to spend 30p in the rain. Our papers are now in the immigration office, after a nine hour queue and many frustrations. Not sure we can take the stress if we have to do it again.

There are lots of events in the pipeline. We start a new city wide drama course on Monday. We are going to be visiting a youth prison for short term inmates. A Swiss mission organisation have invited us to Ribbalta, which is in the jungle… Lots of spiders, snakes and very hot! They have offered to pay for our flights which was unexpected. They run a Bible course for tribal leaders for three months each year, they think that drama will be a great way to explain the Bible in a non- book culture. Five other members of Connexiones Entre Mundos will be there at this time helping with the course.

Our Christmas will be spent in Cochabamba with our new friends. (Thanks Elaine for the gravy granules). We will then travel to the rural area to serve a community from 26-28th December and deliver medical and basic supplies with the Belen church. (Bethlehem church).

Thank you for your support and prayers. Please leave a comment. We love to hear your news too. Thanks to MP and SP, PG, RJW and EW, JH for the parcels and for those which we know are en route. Xx

The amazing young people at Centro de Amistad y Apoyo with special help from Benjamin.
Dean with his new little friend Lola:)
Ruth helping to paint at ‘Manos Con Libertad’. A support centre for women who have just come out of prison.
Dean Painting.. in need of a makeover!
Cooking for the Rubbish Dump Lunch
The Rubbish Dump Lunch.
The new wellies.
The new friends.
Cable car in La Paz
British embassy in La Paz. Unfortunately no tea was offered 😦
Illimani mountian overlooking La Paz.

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