Educated and Empowered
The Chaco Fund
Our mission is to contribute to the well-being of Bolivian Chaco Communities by supporting women through education and professional development.
We Provide Scholarships for Bolivian Women
Our organization seeks to unlock the potential of young Bolivian women by empowering leaders, promoting self-determination, and creating advocates for rural communities. The Chaco Fund is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization created by a collection of returned Peace Corps Bolivia volunteers dedicated to creating positive change in the Bolivian Chaco. We help support this region so that diverse communities can enjoy the richness of land and water in perpetuity. Our approach – centered around women’s education – does not detract from current projects, does not draw from already-limited resources, but simply provides a much-desired asset to rural communities.
Over the past three years, the Chaco Fund has had the privilege of supporting a cadre of young women in their pursuit of higher education through our Community Leaders Scholarship. These women embody leadership qualities such as teamwork, vision, and integrity – and will one day bring these capacities back to contribute meaningfully in their Chaqueño communities. For example, hydrology student Maribel hopes that she might one day guarantee the water supply of her home village of Cañitas.
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Covid-19 has affected every aspect of Bolivian life. Personal freedoms, civic duties, work and school have all been redefined.
Chaco Fund scholars, like university students the world over, have been confronting the challenges and opportunities presented by virtual learning during a pandemic. Universities have cancelled lab sections and it is unclear when students will be allowed to re-engage in hands-on learning. For Chaco Fund scholar Lorena Gudiño, a sophmore dentistry student, this has meant sculpting teeth from soap, wax and improvised plaster for her dental anatomy lab.
This kind of ingenuity has spanned all aspects of learning. Chaco Fund scholars, each provided their own laptop, are spared from completing coursework using a cell phone like many of their classmates. Nevertheless, stable internet access, available only via cell signal, remains a barrier for students living in remote areas.
In the face of these and other challenges, some Bolivian students have abandoned their studies and it remains unclear how Covid-19 will affect university enrollment in the coming years. As a non-profit supporting women’s education, the Chaco Fund remains vigilant and prepared to step up to meet this critical moment. Higher education – particularly for women – is not a luxury.
We will not rest until every young woman in the Chaco is empowered.
In a few days, voters will go to the polls. They will decide the leadership of their country as they confront grave challenges to its democratic institutions against the backdrop of the ongoing ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic and its accompanying economic turmoil.
We are not all in this together. Sure, we are all experiencing the common disruption that is COVID-19. But some are shouldering the burden more heavily than others. One such group is women in Latin America.
In Bolivia, there are two holidays in each calendar year which recognize and celebrate women. By exploring the roots of these holidays, we open a window into Bolivian culture and history.