June 19 to July 2, 2020
Miami International Airport
In this region, the rivers are the highways, and the indigenous communities lay scattered along its banks. The communities of the Rio Beni live a remote existence, with subsistence living conditions and minimal access to clean water. These local people (primarily Chimane, Mosetene, Tacana and Quechua Indians) historically have had little access to primary health care services. Our non-profit partner, the Rio Beni Health Foundation, provides these essential medical services to the people of the Rio Beni. The SStS project primarily focuses on supporting mobile clinics, participating in local trainings, and building filters for a clean water initiative.
After building filters for schools and homes that have scarce access to clean water, SStS students will travel, typically by river, to stay among the communities they have come to support. The filters they will install will aid in minimizing the high infant mortality rate in these communities. While there, SStS students will interact with the local individuals via community meetings and recreational activities like soccer.
After completing their work in the community, students will return to Rurrenabaque where they will spend the night before heading up the Yacuma River the next day to learn about the Pampas, the pre-Amazonian wetlands in the Beni region. Students will have the opportunity to spot diverse wildlife, see striking sunsets in the forest, and swim with dolphins in the river while staying at a locally-run eco-lodge. During this time, students will have the opportunity to reflect upon their course in ethical leadership in the midst of this strikingly beautiful setting.
The mission of the Rio Beni Health Foundation is to the promote health and well being by providing basic health care, laboratory and dental services, and access to clean drinking water. To learn more, please visit their website.
After spending a few days constructing bio-sand water filters, the group will travel to a remote Rio Beni community to install them in homes and schools.
Prior to their travels, students complete a series of online activities (30 minutes each). While traveling, they also read engaging articles, participate in cultural experiences, and create presentations in small groups.
While in Rurrenabaque, students typically take short hikes in the surrounding hills. Then, during the last days of the course, the group will take day hikes while exploring the Pampas.
In addition to staying in hostels while the group is in Rurrenabaque, La Paz, and the Pampas, the group will camp in the rainforest for a few nights while installing filters in the Rio Beni community.
After arriving in La Paz, the students take a short flight to Rurrenabaque. While in this area, they travel several hours, typically by boat, to the community receiving the filters. At the end of the course, students will travel by boat to the Pampas.
Although the group will camp in a remote village while installing filters, they do not stay in the homes of individual families.
For a majority of the days, the group will be in rural areas (the small town of Rurrenabaque, a remote community in the rainforest, and an ecolodge in the Pampas). A day will also be spent in La Paz, a major city where the Bolivian government is seated.
During the travel phase of each SStS course, students spend time reflecting about the learning that occurs through their immersion and service experiences. These posts capture the impact of our programs on individual students. Explore the posts below to learn about the SStS Bolivia program from the important viewpoint of our students.