Laurie Ijzerman is the coordinator for Beyond South America. She lives in Cochabamba, Bolivia. In Brazil, Beyond South America works with locals.
Laurie IJzerman is the founder of Casa de la Alegría. She is leading the foundation since 2012. The idea to start Casa de la Alegría came from her experiences as a researcher, her love for South America and her friendship with the people in Cochabamba. Later, she also founded language school Juntucha, to support the Casa. And in 2013 Laurie took over Beyond Bolivia, the precursor of Beyond South America.
Marye Dijkstra is the founder of Beyond South America, she studied Pedagogical sciences and had lived in South America for months when she started the organization. She started in Cochabamba, and thus called Beyond Bolivia, where she was a volunteer at Atendi, a day-care centre for children with mental and/or physical disabilities.
The purpose was to set up an organisation that would help to find suitable places with local organizations for volunteers and interns coming from Europe. Always considering the sustainability of projects and the costs for you as a volunteer or intern. The intention is also to offer them possibilities to experience something that will last, as Marye experienced herself, and to let them broaden their horizon.
After a while the idea was to extend the work to other countries in South America, starting in Brazil. Thus another name had to be used: Beyond South America. Contacts in Brazil are only locals: Sergio Moreira in Belo Horizonte, Agnaldo Benites Moreno Junior in São Paolo and Yudoska Alejo in Foz do Iguacu. Laurie IJzerman is the coordinator for Beyond South America. She lives in Cochabamba, Bolivia. In Brazil Beyond South America works with locals.
Introducing: Laurie Ijzerman
I discovered South America in 2005 when I was studying Cultural Anthropology and Sociology of Developing Societies. I wanted to really experience what those countries in the books were like. I made a long journey through Peru and was hooked. All the money I earned back home I put aside for a new journey. Thanks to that I could enjoy this beautiful continent for a few months every year.
After visiting Argentina, Ecuador and Cuba, Bolivia stole my heart. In 2008, I came here to support my colleagues from a Dutch-Bolivian foundation. The city I arrived to was situated high up in the mountains, cold and grey. Not what you would call an ideal holiday destination. I knew immediately, though, that no country touched me as much as Bolivia did. The year after, when I was doing my Master’s degree in economic anthropology, I went to Cochabamba. This was it. This was where I wanted to stay. Cochabamba has everything you could with for in a city. A nice warm climate, but not too hot, very kind but not pushy inhabitants and a very relaxed Latin-American culture, not too much in mañana-mañana style.
I returned to The Netherlands to graduate, founded a foundation which uses art forms as theatre in therapies and started my new life here. One year after, I joined Marye in making her dream come true: giving interns and volunteers the time of their lives in freedom, while at the same time being fully supported by us. We share the vision that most people can get more out of their stay here if we customize and shape their time here in accord to their interests. In this sense, we offer to find you an internship or voluntary work that matches both the organisation and your capacities. As opposed to letting you change diapers or work in a kitchen despite of you not liking it. Not only will you have a once in a lifetime experience, we are also striving that you really will achieve something for the group you work with.