Water for the children's day-care centre with the mine Caracoles in Potosí

Water for the children's day-care centre with the mine Caracoles in Potosí

Celebration in after-school care centre Caracoles!

More than 20 years ago 2 Bolivian mining widows started the after-school care centre for children Caracoles, called after the mine on the Cerro Rico mountain. The mothers, who live near the mines with their children in abject poverty, try to make a living by sorting minerals or as a guard. The after-school care centre can provide for about 42 children or young adults. They will get a meal (the most important reason to attend) and homework guidance. Moreover, the young people are stimulated to continue schooling instead of working in the mines.

This wonderful Bolivian project provides an oasis for those children who have no choice but to grow up in this polluted and unhealthy industrial environment. There is no running water on the mountain; the water is delivered by tank trucks and stored in the care centre’s reservoir. This provided the monthly 5000 litres of water needed for drinking, cooking, washing, showering and sanitary facilities. The growing number of children however resulted in a water shortage that lasted a long time. This caused the showers to be closed and toilets had to be flushed manually. The poorer personal hygiene as a result caused contamination and unnecessary illness in its turn. In 2015 director Iveth of MUSOL which leads the centre asked the Foundation Amigos de Potosí (AdP) for help in expanding the water facilities.

Our local coordinator Enrique Paz joined forces with engineer Franklin Sunagua, analysed the problems and developed a plan with all concerned for doubling the water capacity. Costs of this project: € 8.500.

Unfortunately, the plans had to be adapted because of the mining activities which resulted in a major delay. But all’s well that ends well: recently the renewed expanded water facility was ready for use. It includes a large storage tank (10.000 litres), a smaller distribution tank (2.000 litres), a water pump with cover, a new hand-basin outside and some new pipes and faucets.

May 2017: Celebration in after-school care centre Caracoles!


On May 25th, the water facilities were officially handed over to its users; the children of the after-school care centre. The day started festively with the teenagers painting the big water tank in different colours, creating a wonderful spring landscape. Not only was this activity fun, it also promoted ownership by the children, for which they are now co-responsible.


Red Cross volunteers then taught the children about proper water usage and personal hygiene. Engineer Franklin explained the workings of the water facilities and pump and how to properly maintain the system. Then followed the official opening with a delicious celebration lunch for all. The volunteers of Amigos de Potosí provided soap, shampoo and towels that were immediately put to use. Coordinator AdP Enrique surprised everyone with a video message from the Netherlands and many thanks and warm greetings were waved to us all the way from Potosí! 

We want to extend our thanks to everyone who directly or indirectly has taken action for or in any way contributed to this project: Sophie and family Van Genuchten; Spark Holding; Willy Kamphuis & Hanna Gächter with their tip action in Gargellen; Jumbo Maripaan; Foundation One Earth; sponsors of Cycling to Marrakesh / Ger & Paul van Lier and the donors of Amigos de Potosí. GRACIAS Amigos!


What happened previously:

Update, March 21st 2017: Mining company Manquiri has finally completed the restoration work they promised, and we were able to continue with the realisation of our project. On the 1st and 2nd picture, taken from the mountainside (meaning, from outside the centre), you can see the restored talud and the platform for the small water tank. The remaining work will take place in the courtyard. The 3rd picture shows the space where the pump resides in the courtyard. Soon the large water tank will be delivered and everything can be hooked up. The project is reaching its completion!



Report working visit 10/7/2016. Mining activities slow down the project. We have had a building plan since April 2015. And thanks to the successful, sponsored, cycling trip to Marrakesh by Ger and Paul van Lier in August 2016, which raised as much as € 3.770, the required amount has been met.

So one thinks: come on, let’s roll! But no… Since the mining excavators took a really large chunk out of the mountain earlier this year, right where the new water tank was supposed to be built, the initial situation has completely changed and the project has been delayed.

A new plan with a different construction for the water tank had to be devised (including a water pump, since we can’t make use of gravity anymore), and the perimeter walls and drainage of the centre had to be restored by the mining company responsible for the changed situation. As it turns out during my working visit, no progress has been made in this area and I suggest paying the mining company Manquiri a visit. We seem to be able to convince them of the seriousness of the situation and that time is of the essence, considering the approaching summer (rainy season). Meanwhile, our engineer Franklin has devised a new plan and now all we can do is wait for Manquiri to perform the restorations. We look forward to news regarding this and we will keep you posted!

Until then, they will have to make do with bowls to wash their hair in and flush the toilet. Showering is out of the question for now, but it won’t take long anymore!

A bit further back:

In 2014, during the Amigos trip, we visited this project and saw with our own eyes the urgency for improvements.

Day care centre at the mine Caracoles:


In 2015 the plan was worked out and presented (April 16th 2015) by Franklin, the engineer:

It will be a 15.000 litre concrete tank which offers enough capacity for the coming 20 years (based on a usage of 32 litres per person, per day and up to 52 people). A costly construction + operations, also due to the arduous terrain. The tank will be placed high up so there is no need for a pump. We make agreements on the maintenance of the installation and on the instruction for the children and mothers.

Several wonderful donations have already reached us, amongst others from Jumbo/Maripaan, from Werkgroep Een Aarde and through a tipping campaign from Willy Kamphuis in Gargellen (AT). We hope to start building in 2016.

Total costs of the project: € 8.500