Monday, February 11, 2013

twenty years later

This year, on October 4th, 2013, the College will celebrate its 20th anniversary of the founding of the UAC-CP.  It's been nearly two decades that the College has provided higher education and services to the people of Bolivia's rural area.

Sr. Damon Nolan literally built the College with students.
Planning for the College dates back to 1990 when Sr. Damon Nolan, a Franciscan missionary, who had been living and working in the area of alternative adult education in the Yungas and later served as director of the Carmen Pampa high school, started talking with local people about the need to train young people from the rural area at the college level.

A college education, everyone believed, would not only help empower the families and communities of Bolivia's poor, rural area, but it would also give aspiring men and women control over their own destiny.

The initial planning for the College was a joint effort that involved the Cathlic University of Bolivia (which, to this day, provides academic accreditation for the UAC-CP), the Missionary Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception based in Boston, the Diocese of Coroico, and the Villa Nilo Sub-Central (a local governing body of the indigenous Aymaran people).  The four groups were united over their shared concern about the lack of job opportunities for recent high school graduates and a need to have professionals from the rural area trained to seek solutions and address the problems of their people living in poverty. Building a college, everyone agreed, would be a way to dismantle barriers to education and lift people out of poverty. 

Pictured of initial construction of dormitories on Campus Manning.
When the College first opened its doors for classes in January 1994, 54 students were enrolled for basic technical training. Now, nearly 20 years later, the College has a current enrollment of approximately 700 students per year and offers five degrees--four of which are undergraduate degrees: Nursing, Agronomy, Veterinary Science, and Education. (Ecotourism is a 3-year technical degree). The College boasts more than 500 graduates and thesis students, approximately 20% of whom go on for continuing studies and about half of whom are women.

In less than 20 years, the College has become a vibrant catalyst for social and economic development. More than any awards or recognition, the work of UAC-CP graduates is proof of the College's success in implementing its mission.

The desks and periodic table have remained the same, but many different faces have come and gone.
This year, we look forward to looking back on the past. Recalling stories and news events and looking at old photos, we hope to both reminded and inspired of all that has been accomplished in 20 years. This kind of exercise will be important, as it can help us evaluate the mission, vision, and  outcomes of the College's work. As a result, it will serve as a foundation to help us dream and make plans for the College's future.

If you supported the beginning years of the College in some way (a volunteer, visitor, donor, etc.,) and have pictures and/or stories to share, please send them to

Friday, February 8, 2013

public health in carmen pampa

The College has been fortunate to have help from Dr. Pilar Hernández. Dr. Hernández, a native of Spain and now living in Bolivia specializes in public health and infectious diseases, helped to develop a public health project for the College's Nursing Department and Public Health Center. The three-year project, "Prevention, Detection, Diagnosis and Treatment: Addressing Leishmaniasis and Tuberculosis in Yungas, Bolivia," will start this February at the College.

Dr. Hernández writes a blog about health issues in Bolivia--many of which people assume have been eradicated from the world, but still exist and prey upon people in developing countries, like Bolivia.  On her blog she also writes about her work, including the UAC-CP project.

Dr. Hernández writes on her blog:

Dr. Reynaldo Mendoza, Director of the UAC-CP's Health Clinic.
The Unidad Académica Campesina de Carmen Pampa (UAC-CP) is a university located in the Yungas subtropical region of the Department of La Paz, Bolivia. It provides access to higher education and community service for Bolivia’s poorest and most marginalized population. The UAC-CP’s Nursing Department and Public Health Program prepare young Bolivian women and men to understand and respond to health care needs and improve the quality of life for people, especially those living in the rural area.

The project I’m working in: Prevention, Detection, Diagnosis and Treatment: Addressing Leishmaniasis and Tuberculosis in Yungas, Bolivia will provide services for populations at high risk for tuberculosis and leishmaniasis, which are highly endemic in the Yungas area, as well as provide UAC-CP Nursing students with hands-on training in public health and laboratory work. The project aims at detecting tuberculosis and leishmaniasis cases in the service area of the UAC-CP, taking samples for diagnosis and provide treatment to patients.

For this project, there is a current collaboration with the Public Health Faculty of the St. Catherine’s University in Minnesota for the construction of the data base of the project. In addition, another collaboration with the Parasitology Department of the Pharmacy Faculty at the University of Barcelona on the test of topical treatment for cutaneous leishmaniasis has been also established. Since the current treatment for leishmaniasis in Bolivia consists of injected Glucantime®, the use of an external treatment that can be applied by the same patients represents a big advantage.
This project has received partial funding for the first year of the three-year project, but the College and Carmen Pampa Fund continue to look for financial support. If you have suggestions for funding or questions about the project, please contact Sarah Mechtenberg or Dr. Pilar Hernández.