About Me

My name is Molly Clesen and I currently work as a teacher of students with visual impairments in Springfield Public Schools. I interned for 5 weeks this summer with the Manuela Gandarillas Center for the Blind in Cochabamba, Bolivia. This was an opportunity to empower and contribute to an amazing program in this local community by working with the clients to help them complete tasks independently, teaching lessons on writing, Braille, and other techniques, and participating in games and exercises to stimulate other senses. My goal has been to keep all supporters informed with up to date information about my fundraising efforts and experiences abroad. Even though I have returned, the center for the blind continues to need support. If you would like to donate to a very worthwhile cause, please click on the "Donate" button below. Thank you and any support you can provide is very appreciated. --Molly

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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Estamos aquí!

¡Hola de Bolivia!

Day one was fantástico!  We arrived in Cochabamba at 7:30am and the director of Sustainable Bolivia picked us up at the airport, Michelle.  We hung out at the home office for the morning and met LOTS of international travelers who will be volunteering with the organization.  We've met people from all over the US, Luxembourg, and the UK.   So far everyone has been  very nice and the vibe here is great!  After resting and touring the house/office, we went to meet our host family.  It is comprised of a husband, wife, and 3 daughters.  We've eaten great food, including ápi (thick, hearty drink made of quineoa, corn, cinnamon, and a little sugar) and buñuelos (a pastry made of white flour) for dinner and potato soup for lunch.  Communication with the family has  been fairly easy and they are very understanding. Katrina and I share a very large room and are living in what we have lovingly named  El Jardín de Secreto (The Secret Garden).  When I post pictures, you will understand why we call it this :)  Tonight, we are going to a conference that was arranged by  our sister, Linda, and listen to a speaker talk about internet safety and security and the importance of protecting personal information that one might post on different sites (i.e.: Facebook).  Tomorrow we will have a tour of the city and then go to work at the M.G Center for the Blind.  I should be able to update and the site and call the US a few times a week as SB has a computer and phone that is free for use and there are plenty of places to pay for time on the internet.  That's all for now everyone, adios!                  

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bon Voyage!

Tomorrow (Tuesday) I leave for Bolivia from Chicago.  We'll be stopping off in Miami and then heading to La Paz on an overnight flight.  After that, we'll be going to Cochabamba and then heading to our host family's residence.  Talk to you all when I reach the other side of the world!


Thursday, June 23, 2011

IAER and the Illinois Times

T minus 5 days before lift off to Bolivia!  Sadly, amidst all the hubbub and excitement of the end of the school year, I neglected to mention that the Illinois Chapter of AER granted a stipend of $500 to the trip!  They only asked that I write an article to be posted in the IAER newsletter when I return.  Not a bad deal if you ask me...thank you to the Board of IAER!  

Also, I met with a reporter today from the Illinois Times and he is doing a story on the trip.  This should go to print (available in paper format and online) July 7th.  He will email me to let me know for certain and then I will be sure to post a link to the article.  

Well, I have just about everything packed.  My largest suitcase is already halfway filled with medicine, toiletries, books, and donated items.  I hardly have room for my clothes!  Maybe I should just forego the clothes and go for the birthday suit...it'd be easier when they do the cavity search in customs...

Thursday, June 2, 2011


I'm very excited to report that the American Printing House for the Blind is sending a package of materials to donate to the Bolivia center for the Blind!  I'm not sure what they are yet, so it'll be like Christmas in June!  This will help increase the distance of the $100 that supporters have given specifically for materials.  Ya-hooey!  I love this field and the giving nature of the people in it :)