Bolivia – Alternative Skills

Project: Building Alternatives Skills in Bolivia
Partner: CEPROMIN in Cerro Rico, Potosi
Funding Partners: CIDA

120 youth who either work in the mines of the Cerro Rico or are the children of miners are developing skills with which they can build futures outside the mining industry thanks to CFCA’s project with CEPROMIN. Before the project activities began CEPROMIN conducted a detailed market study to identify areas in the local economy where trained young people could meet an existing demand and find stable employment. The areas identified include: cooking and baking, electronics, car repair, tourism, and health and beauty. CEPROMIN, in cooperation with local technical institutes, is providing these 120 young people with comprehensive technical training in these professions.

CEPROMIN’s technical training is accompanied by a series of right-based workshops designed to develop young people’s self-esteem and confidence. These workshops also offer support in developing resumes, tips for the job search and additional tutoring in literacy and mathematics. From this strong foundation, young people graduating from CEPROMIN’s training will be eligible to apply for a small loan to provide the initial capital to support entrepreneurial ventures. Girls affected by mining are also eligible for scholarships to pursue higher education. These scholarships are a direct response to the large gender disparity in higher education around Potosi. Instead of simply condemning child labour in the mines of Cerro Rico, this project works with young people themselves to challenge its structures and to build skills that offer real and sustainable alternatives.

CEPROMIN has been working with families and communities involved in Bolivia’s mining industry for nearly 30 years. The vision of local staff is that miners work in safe conditions, that their rights and those of their children are respected and that they have stable livelihoods. As a forward looking organization, CEPROMIN supports children of miners to develop alternative livelihoods outside of the mining industry by supporting them to stay in school and offering training to open doors to other fields.

The city of Potosi was once among the wealthiest in the Americas. It is still the highest city in the world, sitting just below the Cerro Rico mountain. This mountains was once a source of enormous mineral wealth first for the area’s residents and later for colonial Spain. After more than 500 years of mining, however, most of the wealth of the Cerro Rico has been tapped. Mining is nonetheless still the principal economic actively in the area and families struggle to make ends meet. This creates a situation in which many children are forced to work in and around mines, in dangerous and unhealthy conditions, so that they can contribute to supporting their families. In addition to the serious risks to children’s health and safety that this type of work poses, many children either leave school or perform poorly due to their work. They are also developing skills in a profession that is not likely to support them in the long run given the limited minerals left in the Cerro Rico.

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