LDS Church's humanitarian efforts honored in Bolivia


La Paz’s Departmental Legislative Assembly recently honored the Church for its ongoing tradition of charitable service both in the city and across the entire Andean nation.

Included in the award — which was presented on July 25 to local Church leaders — was also national recognition of the Church’s recent 50th anniversary in Bolivia.

The award lauded the Church and its members “as an institution and living example of valued humanitarian aid.”

The Departmental Legislative Assembly presented the award to the Church at a formal ceremony in the auditorium of the Central Bank of Bolivia. Some 500 delegates representing a variety of constituencies participated in the event.

Also in attendance was Alvaro Garcia Linera, president of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, who took time to congratulate the Church for receiving the prestigious honor. Assemblyman Angel Villacorta Vargas presented the award to Elder Rene Cabrera, an Area Seventy.

Nine other individuals or institutions were recognized at the ceremony for their humanitarian contributions to the city of La Paz and the nation of Bolivia.

Counted among the honorees was Dr. Joel Moya, a local LDS ophthalmologist, who has helped lead the fight against blindness in Bolivia, particularly in La Paz.

“We want to recognize the work of individuals or groups who have contributed to the development of La Paz,” said Assembly spokesman Nelson Guarachi during the ceremony.

Other recipients of the honor included local leaders in education, the arts and medicine.

Elder Cabrera and Dr. Moya were joined at the event by La Paz Bolivia Miraflores Stake President Yui Guillen and his first counselor, President Luis Gonzalez; Bishop Hugo Rodriguez, who presides over the Agua de La Vida Ward; and Enrique Cabezas, Bolivian Church public affairs director.

Bolivia is home to more than 175,000 members. The Church was legally established in the country in 1963. The first branch was organized a year later in Cochabamba.

On April 30, 2000, President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the Cochabamba Bolivia Temple, the only temple in the nation.

Humanitarian work has helped define the Church in Bolivia in recent decades. In 2009, the Church helped refurbish and modernize the Los Andes Women and Children’s Clinic in El Alto, Bolivia. The clinic provides high-quality medical care to expectant mothers, premature babies and other children and women.

Church welfare officials also continue to play a day-to-day role in improving the food and diets of malnourished Bolivians throughout the country.

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