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La Vida - Helping Hands

“Helping Hands is a true dream for all the young people so they can finish their studies”

Project Co-ordinator: Lisa Smart
Location: La Paz, Bolivia


  •  La Vida provides financial support and mentoring in a family-like environment so that disadvantaged young people can finish their studies and get their first work experiences.
  • Many of the students we support, were raised in orphanages and do not have the support of their families.
  • Students follow a variety of courses from technical degrees through to medicine.
  • Helping Hands was founded in 2004 and run by founder Linda Zarate a nurse, and experienced educator.

Description of Project

Helping Hands, based in La Paz, provides financial support to disadvantaged young people, primarily orphans and those from care homes, so they can complete their studies.  Since its foundation in 2004 by Linda Zarate, a Canadian nurse, over 100 students have completed secondary education, 59 completed technical studies and 82 obtained a university diploma.  Helping Hands also provides a safe, comfortable place that students can call home, where birthdays are celebrated and where monthly meetings are held to discuss a variety of important issues affecting young people. Like a family, the team maintains close contact with students, keeping a watchful eye on how they are progressing and providing practical, financial and emotional support if needed.

In 2017 Helping Hands assisted 100 students, more than half of whom were girls; 29 were attending high school and the rest are pursuing post-secondary education. Most financial support comes from sponsorship, which is spent in different ways depending on the individual’s needs (school materials, transport, providing rent for a room or school fees). In addition, administrative costs are largely covered by overseas charitable organizations, allowing maintenance of the office and services provided for students, such as the use of computers, homework assistance, showers, and personal guidance.  Students themselves help run the project, giving them the chance to gain valuable work experience, keeping costs down and also giving them a chance to work part time to earn their food money. The project also maintains a small fund which is used if students need medical treatment. 

La Vida has been involved with Helping Hands since 2009 and has sponsored several students each year depending on funds available. It typically costs around £50/month or £600/ year to support a student.  The project’s impact is tremendous in terms of improving life chances for the students involved. More information about the project can be found on Helping Hands website. You can also make an online donation to the project  or visit their facebook page.

Read a letter from Franz, one of the students.

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