Volunteering in Ranch Nuevo, Santa Cruz

Trip Start Jan 12, 2006
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Friday, June 2, 2006

Whilst in Santa Cruz sitting at an internet café i met a couple of Americans who gave me some tips on volunteer organisations in Santa Cruz. I was having trouble locating them so it was perfect timing. One of the recommendations was an organisation called FAMUNDI, (Familias Unidas en Dios). Sounds religious but i did not feel any religious pressure at all. The organisation is based and funded out of Austria.
FAMUNDI is based in Rancho Nuevo, which is about 15 minutes from the centre of Santa Cruz. The foundation is committed to poor families who cannot afford to feed their families, primarliy focusing on single parent families. The foundation is currently committed to 36 families who have 120 children between them! Some with 11 children each!!
I was the first travelling volunteer FAMUNDI had received and what a great experience it was. I was fortunate enough to be there on the 5th day of the month which is when FAMUNDI hands out the monthly food portions consisting of:
3kg of potatoes
3kg of onions
1kg of flour (2 due to winter when i was there)
1kg of pasta
1kg of sugar
1kg of rice

Each of the 36 families arrives to pick up their portions on the 5th. I was able to meet 26 of the 36 families during this exercise. My role was to measure up the contents of the handouts and to greet the families.
We also spent a whole afternoon making and baking bread!! I had never done this before so it was a great learning experience. We made over 400 rolls and over 70 empenadas with Onion and Cheese which are handed out to 5 families per day until the ingredients run out
Other roles i played was entertaining the kids. I played cards, marbles (bola as they call it) and football (or Pelota as Bolivians call it).
The foundation was brilliant and really looked after me. There was a group meeting called to formally introduce me to the families where i had to say a few words. Accomodation and food was all supplied, unlike other volunteer organisations you didn´t have to pay a cent. Any dontations you want to make are accepted but not required. I gave my host family who put me up and fed me some meals a lot of fruit as the kids needed the nourishment. I also gave the foundation money so that next month every family could receive a portion of fruit along with their current portions. I am also returning in 2 weeks and am taking and taking 90 of the kids to the Circus!!! Will be unreal and a real treat for them!!!

If you have found this page by search engine and are interested in volunteering with FAMUNDI please see my other entry called info for Volunteers in Santa Cruz, Bolivia where i have more details including contact info. I highly recommed the organisation and feel their offering is exactly what travellers are looking for. A rich rewarding opportunity to give back without having to fork out expensive ´fee´s´that you never know where they end up. I know where all my donations will go and that is unique and amazing. The cultural experience and the opportunity to ´give back´make FAMUNDI a great choice of volunteer organisations.
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