FANLAP Changes Lives

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My name is Craig Siemens and I’m a dentist from Victoria, Canada.

I first came to La Paz in 2012 to work on my Spanish at a local language school and fell in love with the town, the ocean and its people.  Since that time, I have returned to La Paz once or twice a year.  On several of these trips, I worked with a local Rotary club providing dental care to some of the less fortunate people in the area.

It was on one of these earlier trips that my wife, Eva, and I were introduced to the FANLAP organization and its founder, Judy Peterson.  We soon became interested in learning more about the organization and the services they provided to the children and youth.  Not long after that meeting, we went with Judy on an excursion to La Colonia Laguna Azul, an impoverished community on the outskirts of La Paz. 

From the moment we met Judy and saw the FANLAP building in Colonia Laguna Azul we were convinced that this was an organization that we wanted to support.  At their facility, a two story building with a kitchen and lunch room below and a large library and study area above, we observed countless smiling children being fed by volunteers at their breakfast and lunch programs.  We were also very impressed with their library/learning center with its numerous computers and a well-stocked library of books for the children of the area to use. On later visits, we witnessed some of their other programs in action including the math and English language tutoring sessions that they provide on the weekends. 

It was on that first visit that we decided to sponsor a student with the costs of their schooling and have continued to do so for the past 5 years.  On our next trip to La Paz we went again with Judy to Colonia Laguna Azul to visit the home of the 13 year old girl we were sponsoring.  In their humble home in the desert, we were graciously greeted by the girl and her mother.  With the help of Judy and my mediocre Spanish skills, we have formed a lasting bond with the girl and her family.  Initially we had intermittent contact with the student; however, over the past few years we are more frequently in contact with her via Facebook.  During the time of our sponsorship we have witnessed her grow from a child to an intelligent young woman. About a year ago, we met with her once again, this time to celebrate her upcoming graduation from high school and her impending entrance into university where she plans to study alternative tourism.  We cannot overstate how wonderful it is to see her succeed and know that we helped her to achieve her goals!

Perhaps Eva and I have become more involved with our student than many people care to; however, we have truly enjoyed learning about the family and the culture.  Through this relationship, we have come to believe that FANLAP is one of the best organizations in BCS or anywhere.  The FANLAP organization, directors, employees and volunteers are well organized and are accountable to the public.  Other than the executive director, the pickup and delivery person and two part-time librarians, the programs are managed entirely by volunteers.  (Note:  we do give a stipend to our part-time teachers.) Students must maintain a good academic average to stay in the program, and must do 40 hours of community service (approved by the scholarship committee) each school year to maintain their scholarship.  Other than credit card fees and handling charges, all money donated for their scholarships goes directly to the student programs.  Perhaps most importantly, getting to know Judy Peterson and others in the organization has convinced me that the organization operates with integrity.

The following is a letter from Goretti, Craig and Eva’s student.

Gracias a FANLAP…

            I have plans for my future, I want to study a university career, work on it, help my family, improve myself and fulfill my dreams. But for all the above you need three things, first: willingness and confidence in yourself, second: tools to do it and third: support to achieve it.  All that and more FANLAP has given me. The support began six years ago and since then they have not stopped.  They have helped me not only economically, but also emotionally.  My sponsors are incredible people who have supported me unconditionally from the beginning.

            It makes me happy that people who did not even know me wanted to help me in such a way, that they were interested in knowing me and above all that they are there for me, giving me encouragement for each project, for each exam.  They encourage me and make me feel sure of what I know and what I can achieve.  I know they have a difficult job and they are very busy, but nevertheless they are always there, wishing me good luck, believing in me.  I am grateful  that they take the time to write me and ask how school is going and what’s new, and that they worry about my future. I appreciate so much that they take the time to give me so much attention and each time they teach me something new.  

Thanks to FANLAP I met incredible people, not only my sponsors, but also teachers and friends. They gave me a Philosophy course which I loved; the teacher taught me a lot, to be self-taught and I believe this is essential for life, to be me who seeks the answers of whatever intrigues me, to be me who formulates my answer and to think and investigate beyond what they tell me and not just accept what people say.         

I am about to finish high school and apply for the University.  My sponsors have decided to continue supporting me, which I am very grateful for; with them and with FANLAP, they have given me the possibility of having a stable future, they have opened the doors to a new horizon for me.

I belong to a lower class family economically speaking, which means a lot for me and my parents that FANLAP helps us. Thanks to the foundation, it has been much easier to study. I know that things are not easy at this time, no matter how small what you want, it is difficult to get it.  That is why I know that with your support I will arrive where I want to be.                      

FANLAP has taught me that teamwork is the force that allows ordinary people to achieve outstanding results and that success and discipline are achieved with discipline and perseverance. My experience with the foundation has been wonderful, it is full of people with a good heart, willing to support you, to recognize your effort, to guide you to fulfill your goals, to give you strength to fight for your dreams and make you feel that you can everything that you face.          

Thanks to FANLAP and my family, I am happy to say that I have wonderful people at my side who support me.  I thank them so much and I will never stop doing it, because there is never too much gratitude to those who have never abandoned me and supported me from the beginning.                   

People like those who support the foundation are the best in this world and deserve to be recognized. I hope to one day be able to contribute to the foundation and be part of the future of students wanting to improve themselves. Thank you FANLAP for helping me grow. 


For additional information about FANLAP or to become a sponsor, please
contact Judy Peterson at