Rosa’s Path Out of Poverty


Rosa en Bolivie

When Rosa lost her husband, she faced a crushing question: how will I provide for my children?

Like many other Indigenous women in her community, Rosa had little education and no skills to find a job. They lived on land they didn’t own, scraping by with small plots of onions and potatoes. Most were trying to make ends meet on less than $2 a day.

These women also face barriers to getting secure jobs in the large mining sector that exists near their homes in La Paz, Bolivia. Because of a common superstition that women scare minerals away, they are often restricted to low-paying work outside the mines, like sorting through mine tailings to find any remaining minerals. Many of these women are the wives or daughters of men who died in the mines.

Desperate to earn a stable income that could support her family, Rosa came across INFOCAL, a local non-profit that offers marginalized women technical training for in-demand jobs.

At INFOCAL, Rosa connected with Cuso International volunteer, Javier Michel, who was helping out in a program that enabled more than 800 women to learn a trade and find work. Originally from Bolivia, Javier used his understanding of the country, his knowledge of government processes, and his shared culture and language to guide and support Rosa and the other women.

“My two-year volunteer placement gave me the opportunity to go back to the country that I grew up in and really make a difference,” Javier said.

That difference couldn’t be more evident in Rosa. As a single mother, she no longer has to worry about where her family’s next meal will come from, or how she’ll send her children to school. With a stable job, financial independence and greater self confidence, she has put herself and her children on a path that leads out of poverty, towards prosperity.

Javier’s work as a diaspora volunteer with Cuso International has changed his life. “I don’t see myself spending my life just worried about making money,” he says. “Having an impact, that makes more sense in my life now.”

“I’ve kept in touch with some of the women from Rosa’s program, and I’m seeing how their lives have completely changed because of the training they received,” Javier said.