Emma Condori Mamani from Bolivia will talk about the extensive projects of and among the 30,000 Quakers in Bolivia at 9:45 a.m. on Sunday, January 15 at the Adult First Day class. The public is invited.
Over 8% of the world’s Quakers live in Bolivia, making it the world’s third largest Quaker population after the USA and Kenya. The majority of Bolivian Quakers are indigenous Aymara people living on the Altiplano – small villages in the Andes over twelve thousand feet above sea level. Quakerism was first brought to Bolivia by a Navajo Quaker, William Abel, who came to La Paz in 1919.
The Bolivian Quakers and the Quaker Center in Bolivia manage projects in education, the environment & climate change, racial justice, and peace-making.
In 1993, British Quakers set up Quaker Bolivia Link UK (QBL) to develop clean water and agriculture. QBL has now funded water supplies in 55 villages on the Altiplano and over 500 families are growing vegetables in greenhouses built by QBL.
In 2002, American Quakers helped create the Bolivian Quaker Education Fund (BQEF) with four main objectives:
- To provide scholarships to enable impoverished young Quakers to continue in post-secondary education.
- To facilitate exchanges between Quaker schools in the US and Bolivia.
- To improve facilities for teaching in English, science and computing.
- To develop and improve educational infrastructure, from books to buildings.
The early Quakers in Bolivia started schools for local children but since the education of indigenous Bolivians was suppressed until the revolution of 1952, the Quaker schools had to operate clandestinely.
Since 2006, BQEF has also sponsored regular Alternatives to Violence programs in local prisons and hospitals in the cities of Santa Cruz, Cochabamba and Sorata. They seek to address problems of violence within families, communities, and barrios (municipalities).
Emma Condori Mamani has attended the Santidad Quaker Yearly Meeting since she was a child. She has served on various Quaker organizations, is a language teacher and a graduate from Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Indiana with a Master of Divinity degree. She is one of the editors of Spirit Rising: Young Quaker Voices and the author of Quakers in Bolivia: The Early History of Bolivian Friends.
Emma has traveled widely among Quakers in numerous countries leading workshops and teaching about Quakers in Bolivia. Currently she works as a director at the Friends International Bilingual Center in Bolivia, and she is an international member of the Quaker Religious Education Collaborative.
By Norval Reece