La Paz, Bolivia – Cuso International, together with partners, beneficiaries and volunteers, officially launched its Volunteers for International Cooperation and Empowerment (VOICE) program in Bolivia on December 4, 2015.

The Counselor and Head of Aid in Bolivia for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD), Anne Germain, Cuso International Country Representative in Bolivia, Fernanda Velasco, and Cuso International volunteers Javier Michel and Meagan Hancock spoke at the launch, which included a special celebration for International Volunteers’ Day. The launch announced the winners of Cuso International’s volunteer profile story contest. 

Germain emphasized Cuso International’s contribution to improving the lives of poor and marginalized people in Bolivia, namely by supporting initiatives and policies that address opportunities for youth employability and entrepreneurship, promoting volunteerism and advocating for the recognition of volunteers’ contribution to development, as well as fostering sustainable agriculture practices and forest conservation. 

In Bolivia, where 1 in 10 young people neither works nor studies, Cuso International will deliver effective, focused and accountable programming through VOICE to improve lives and empower communities in urban and rural areas of Chuquisaca, La Paz, Santa Cruz and Cochabamba. Over the next five years, 100 highly skilled volunteers and local partners will work together on specific projects designed to support skills and vocational training to improve enterprise development and financing, sustainable natural resource management and climate change adaptation. Each project will also promote gender equality and social inclusion.

Cuso International’s local partners in Bolivia include municipal governments, the Chiquitano Forest Conservation Foundation, an indigenous artisans’ association, smallholder cooperatives, vocational schools and CISTAC, a non-governmental organization that works to engage men and boys in promoting gender equality.

“With the help of our local partners, we will focus on strengthening the capacities of women and youth, as well as ensuring equitable access to the resources and opportunities that they need to improve their lives and communities,” said Cuso International Country Representative in Bolivia, Fernanda Velasco. 

The launch ended with the unveiling of the four volunteer story contest winners, each from different regions of Bolivia. The aim of this contest was to acknowledge the important contribution of volunteers to local development efforts. 

As Cuso International’s primary international program, VOICE will improve the economic and social well-being of poor and marginalized communities in targeted countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

VOICE contributes to Canada’s commitment to promoting sustainable economic growth, access to health services, and gender equality and social inclusion around the globe. The five-year program is made possible with support from the Government of Canada, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD).

Cuso International is a non-profit international development organization that works to improve the lives of people living with poverty and inequality around the globe. Each year we mobilize hundreds of volunteer professionals who work with local partners to create positive lasting change. Established in 1961, Cuso International is a registered charity in Canada and the United States.  

Jennifer Buter, Communications Officer
613.829.7445 x244