Sister Miriam's Vision
Sister Miriam Bravo Aramayo, of the Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, and principal of Unidad Educativa Sagrada Familia ("UESF") K-12 School, had long dreamed of creating a child care center in Rio Abajo. In 2003, the need became more urgently apparent, when two unsupervised Huajchilla children died -- one by drowning and one in a fire. However, neither the local convent nor the town of Huajchilla had resources with which to make this vision a reality.
Community and International Support
Undaunted, Miriam first garnered support within Bolivia, from El Programa de Alimentación Para Niños Menores de 5 Años ("PAN") . PAN is a program of the Vice President's Office, intended to provide quality food and education for Bolivia's preschool age children. To help create the school, PAN provided 4 tables, 15 chairs and 6 educational puzzles. Wawanakan Utapa receives flour, sugar, dried corn, oil, shortening and yeast for bread, api (a hot corn drink) and vitamin enriched cookies. PAN visits Wawanakan Utapa to audit food distribution and consumption, and to provide professional development for the Center's teachers.
To enable the Center to get underway, the Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in Spain sent funds for construction of three classrooms, a small office and a bathroom for the children. La Floresta Primary School of Barcelona sent pedagogical materials and school supplies. From Holland, Father Jaime and his congregation provided 20 boxes of used clothes and toys and continues to send more. From Italy, Father Bonaldi paid for a computer. In Spain, a non-profit organization -- ACODEIN -- was created for ongoing support of Wawanakan Utapa, and they provide funding to assist with staff salaries and perishable foods. Individual children have been supported by sponsors in Spain and the United States.
It was decided that the Wawanakan Utapa would be built on the grounds of UESF School.
Recruiting Our Team
Sister Miriam first enlisted the support of Carolina Bravo Aramayo, a licensed social worker, to help research and recriut the children who would come to the daycare. Later, Carolina was hired as the full time program director and social worker for the Center. When construction of the building was finished, Carolina, Sister Miriam and Talia Winokur (a volunteer from the US) painted the Center, and adorned the walls with murals. Sister Miriam's vision was to select teachers from among prior graduates of UESF School. Providentially, when she heard of the plans for Wawanakan Utapa, Lourdes Limachi approached Sister Miriam about teaching at the daycare. She was hired. Then, Sister Miriam recruited Dona Tomasa (herself a mother of 5 UESF students) to do the cooking. On opening day, Lourdes and Talia greeted 15 children ranging in age from 10 months to 4 years. In the months that followed, Wawanakan Utapa's staff grew and is now comprised of those found on the Staff page of this website.
Up and Running
On September 1st, 2004, Wawanakan Utapa officially opened its doors with a beautiful service and ribbon-cutting ceremony. Since then, it has grown to serve 35 children in 3 age-group classes. Classes run from 7:30am - 4:00pm five days a week, 11 months a year. To learn more about the services Wawanakan Utapa provides, click here.
Sister Miriam and Carolina hope to continue to expand the daycare. There are many children still in the Rio Abajo area who would benefit from all the center has to offer. In addition, the teachers go to workshops whenever they can to deepen their knowledge of early childhood education. Rebeca and Lourdes (two of the teachers form the center) are currently pursuing technical degrees in Early Childhood Education from el Instituto Suizo Boliviano Technical School in La Paz. If you would like to help make this dream of expansion become a reality, visit the "How You Can Help" page of this website.