Senior Center – El Torno, Bolivia
The “Centro Vida Feliz” (Happy Life Senior Center) is a day center for the elderly in the town of El Torno, Bolivia with whom Zion has been partnering with for over 10 years. History: In September of this year, Vida Feliz celebrated 15 years of service to the elderly. Zion members Wendell and Karen Amstutz have been involved with this project since its beginning in 1997 in the Baptist church where they were serving in Bolivia. Wendell currently represents Zion on Vida Feliz’s board of directors along with 4 persons from the community of El Torno. In September of 2001 a group of “12 disciples” from Zion, Pacific Covenant and Calvary Churches spent several weeks working on the construction of the Center’s building. Programs: The Center is administered by two local psychologists, Willan Villagomez and Sulma Becerra, who oversee an amazingly diverse program including:
- a soup kitchen and lunch programs
- a large garden
- integrated health care and health education
- occupational therapy
- Bible teaching groups
- home visitations for elderly members who are bedfast or ill
- and the newest (still being built), a shelter for temporarily indigent persons
Institutional Support: The Center enjoys support from a broad base of individual donors and organizations, both local, national and international. Here is a partial list: Asociacion de Adultos Mayores Vida Feliz, the association of elderly persons from the municipality of El Torno, was the founding organization and maintains local leadership. Members pay a nominal monthly due and contribute significant volunteer labor. Iglesia Bautista Vida Nueva, the local Baptist congregation, has supported the organization from its humble beginnings. Its pastor, Ruben Heredia, is on the Center’s Board and several church members work there as volunteers or staff. The City of El Torno municipal government provides funding for the soup kitchen and pays the utility bills for the Center. The Governor’s Office of the State of Santa Cruz provides the funding for the hot lunch program and the salaries for the cook and the nurse. Zion Mennonite Church provided major funding and volunteers for construction of the Center’s building in 2001 and has supported the Center’s Administration with 2 part time salaries since 2005.
Updates from Bolivia
Nov 8, 2018: An administrative meeting on November 8 with Sulma and Willan (on the right) who work full time for the Center as directors, Sra. Tita and Sra. Flora, faithful persons from the community, and Pastor Ruben from the Baptist church, and with Wendell Amstutz in the middle.
Sulma shared about her recent trip to Germany where she met with 5 volunteers who have served at the Center in Bolivia.
An administrative meeting on November 8 with Sulma and Willan (on the right) who work full time for the Center as directors, Sra. Tita and Sra. Flora, faithful persons from the community, and Pastor Ruben from the Baptist church, and with Wendell Amstutz in the middle. Sulma shared about her recent trip to Germany where she met with 5 volunteers who have served at the Center in Bolivia.
Check out this 2014 report from Vida Fleiz will take a bit to download this 28 page report