Hi! My name is Margaret Weihs and I’m a junior at University of California at Berkeley, majoring in Development Studies. This semester I’m participating in SIT Study Abroad’s Bolivia: Multiculturalism, Globalization, and Social Change program. Throughout the semester we have been learning about Bolivian culture as well as its political, economic, and social history and present-day status. The program culminates in a month long independent study project (ISP) that addresses a certain aspect of Bolivian society, culture and/or development. While the ISP can take a variety of shapes, I plan on writing a biography in the form of a children’s book about a prominent Bolivian woman named Casimira Rodríguez.
At age 13, Casimira moved from her family’s home in a small village to live and work in the city of Cochabamba.  With promises of an education, housing, and money to send back home, Casimira left home, both anxious and eager. Once in the city, her hopes were soon dashed as she was forced to work 17-hour days without pay, was seldom allowed to leave the house, and lost contact with her family. Two years later, after having heard of her daughter’s conditions, Casimira’s mother rescued her from the house, and brought her back home to the country. Casimira later returned to the city to once again work as a domestic worker, and 4 years later, in collaboration with fellow workers founded the domestic workers union, an incredible achievement given the general lack of representation and the difficulty of establishing contact among domestic workers who are often confined to the homes of their employers. Casimira went on to hold high positions in both national and international domestic workers organizations, fighting for increased rights and exchanging stories and strategies with domestic workers around the world. In January of 2006, under the government of Bolivia’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales, Casimira became the Minister of Justice and held the position for a year.  Today she continues to be active in Cochabamba, largely in the domestic workers union, and has started a family of her own with 2-year-old twins. 
The story of Casimira Romero is one that is rich with themes of repression and discrimination, as well as perseverance, hope, and ultimate success. By taking the form of a bilingual children’s book, I feel that the story of Casimira’s life will be able to inspire children both within and outside of Bolivia, and give hope to those who may share similar upbringings and/or feelings of adversity. My book will be part of the larger project of Kids’ Books Bolivia, a collection of affordable bilingual children’s stories that celebrate themes of Bolivian life and raise international awareness of Bolivia’s diverse cultures and social issues. The project works closely with schools and local organizations to increase access and affordability of children’s books in Bolivia, the majority of which are imported, culturally irrelevant, and largely inaccessible.
The publication of my children’s book will cost in the range of $750 to $900, any donation to help with the costs of printing and binding would be greatly appreciated!
For more information on Kids’ Books Bolivia, or to see the publications of previous SIT Bolivia students, please visit http://www.kidsbooksbolivia.org.
Thank you very much!
 Draper, Melissa C. "Workers, Leaders, and Mothers: Bolivian Women in a Globalizing World." Dignity and Defiance: Stories from Bolivia´s Challenge to Globalization. Ed. Jim Shultz and Melissa C. Draper. Berkeley, CA: University of California, 2008. 213-53. Print.
 Draper, Melissa C. Telephone interview. 3 Nov. 2010.