Teresa Villaruz

Year Joined MKLM: 2014
Country: Bolivia
City: Cochabamba
Ministry: Education

Personal Data:

Teresa hails from Canyon Country, CA. She taught first grade with Teach for America for three years in Tulsa, Oklahoma in a predominately Hispanic, economically disadvantaged school.

She served in Mombasa, Kenya for a little more than a year and a half, working in the informal settlement of Kibarani teaching Social Studies, English, and Religious Education at St. Francis of Assisi Primary School. With the help of donations from local schools and friends, she started the library there and assisted fellow missioner Judy Walter with a project called Days for Girls that taught local women how to make reusable sanitary pads for the girls in their community.

Current Ministry:

Teresa works at Centro Hermano Manolo in “La Cancha,” one of the biggest open-air markets in Latin America. Started by the Christian Brothers, the program is intended to minister to children who are working in La Cancha. The children range in age between 6-18 and work on construction sites, shine shoes, or sell candy to provide for the basic needs of their families who have typically relocated from the countryside. These children are at high risk for falling into gangs or being victims of sexual abuse, exploitation, and violence because they work independently. A team of volunteers, social workers, and teachers accompanies the children on the street as they work, in their schools, and homes. The Center is located in the old train station that now serves as a storage center for the vendors in the Cancha and acts as a safe space where the children can drop in to get help with homework, play a game, get a healthy snack, etc. Lifeskill classes are also offered, such as workshops on how to manage anger, multiple intelligences, and the rights of a child.