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1

Impressions and reactions


Maud Brischoux

Voix Libres co-ordinator in Strasbourg, Maud Brischoux is a graduate in international relations, with a master’s degree in co-operation.

June 2007

Gracias a la vida

Thank you, life...
Words I will never forget,
- the words of a song I heard sung by Ruben, Camila, Ana, Ines and Paula.
The words of a song that the children of Lake Titicaca join hands
to sing at the top of their voices.

Gracias a la vida…
The words of a song born of silence and injustice -
of a world in which 6 year-old Rebecca cries,
through her tears,
“We’re children - why are things so hard for us?”

Their drawings tell a story of horror -
of beatings, loneliness,
rape and forced labour.

Of Claudia locked up all day in a flat,

of Isamar abandoned by her mother,
of Camila forced to eat her own excrement.

Life has always been cruel to them -
and they still find the strength
to THANK it.

Indeed, their strength -
the instinctive strength which allows them
to forgive the wrongs done them
to love, give wholeheartedly
and make life human again

- is incredible.

Thank you for helping them -
and giving them the courage
to say no to inhumanity.

Maud Brischoux

Olivier Reymermier

Olivier Reymermier with Carola, director of Voix Libres in La Paz, and 3 former street children

February 2007

Voix Libres - making dreams come true

I have just come back from Bolivia, with a sense of having done what I set out to do: bring life to a place where death is everywhere, and revive the lingering spark in bodies broken by suffering.
I have come back proud of the work our teams are doing - of their tireless, humane and effective efforts to give the poor back their self-confidence, and the courage to reshape their ruined lives and make them worth living.
Remember: every cent you give here is worth its weight in gold down there, where the best possible use is made of it, and strict monitoring multiplies its value.
Such monitoring holds the key to ensuring that every co-ordinator remains fully, permanently aware of his/her responsibilities - that help and encouragement needed today are never put off till tomorrow.

Olivier Reymermier,
Programme Director

Ophélie Schnoebelen

Ophélie Schnoebelen, with one of the children from our shelter at Potosi, visiting a walipina

September 2005

First visit to Bolivia

I have been working for Voix Libres for six years, and thought I was ready for the things I would see in Bolivia. But the reality up there in the mountains, 5,000 metres above sea-level, is worse than any nightmare - 5 year-old children, barefoot and freezing in the snow, tight-lipped and expressionless, with wrinkled faces and old men’s hands. It was the mines which taught me what it really means to be born to a life without hope, in a family which has never known anything but suffering and death - in which the father dies at 35, and the grandmother at 44.

But I also saw women - proud and happy after three years of micro-credits - addressing a 500-strong meeting, pouring out the stories of hardship and outrage they were once ashamed to tell, weeping, sharing their dreams, and working towards solving their problems. Erect and confident, they told us how all their children were at school, how they all knew how to read and write - and how they did too.
These women play a fantastic part in encouraging the others who are waiting for micro-credits - like Manuela, who is 20 years old, lives in a stone hut 4 metres square, and was afraid that she might have no bread to give her children at Christmas.
Thank you for giving these women the best Christmas present they could have - a micro-credit.

I also saw the walipinis - those wonderful underground greenhouses which produce crops five times a year, 4,000 metres up. Today, there are over 25 of these on the barren altiplano. A major source of food, they are helping to make the region’s malnourished children strong and healthy again.

Ophélie Schnoebelen,
Director of Voix Libres, France