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Eastern Volunteers with Breeze of Hope

Lauren Solazzo, Tiffany Mihalko, Janice Reigel, and Christine Rempel march to raise awareness about childhood sexual assault.Janice Reigel | The Waltonian

Lauren Solazzo, Tiffany Mihalko, Janice Reigel, and Christine Rempel march to raise awareness about childhood sexual assault.

From July 29 to Aug. 13, 14 Eastern students and alumni worked in Bolivia with the organization Breeze of Hope, led by senior psychology major Lauren Solazzo. The organization is a Philadelphia based non-profit that addresses the issue of child sexual assault and abuses in the U.S. and Bolivia, offering financial and technical assistance to programs that provide free legal, social and psychological services to children and adolescent victims of sexual violence. Eastern is planning to partner with Breeze of Hope in the future in order to sponsor trips to Bolivia.

Eastern alumni and founders of Breeze of Hope, Brisa DeAngulo and Parker Palmer, recognized the lack of support for victims of sexual assault in Bolivia, where 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys are sexually assaulted by the age of 18. Therefore DeAngulo and Palmer devoted themselves to creating support systems for these children and families, seeking to provide justice for children and believing the protection of youth from assault will break the cycle of generational violence.

The Breeze of Hope Center in Bolivia, CUBE, provides many therapies for victims, including dance therapy, music therapy, yoga therapy, trauma focused play therapy, and art therapy. Victims and their families can also receive continual guidance in legal matters, and since CUBE opened, the conviction rate of sexual assault trials has risen exponentially from 2 percent to 95 percent. Because of the success of this organization, the Bolivian government declared August 9 the National Day Against Child Sexual Assault.

Solazzo found out about Breeze of Hope two years ago at Eastern’s homecoming where Breeze of Hope was distributing information. This summer’s trip was Solazzo’s second year attending the trip, and in addition to leading the Eastern group, she was also the organization’s manager of operations and administration, and plans to work full time with Breeze of Hope post-graduation. Solazzo says, “Breeze of Hope is hands-down the most incredible organization that I have ever been a part of. As a victim of sexual violence myself, I was drawn to [its] passion to seek justice for these young children.”

The Eastern cohort participated in CUBE therapy sessions and spent time at its affiliated school on a daily basis, building relationships with the students. The end of the trip was devoted to preparing for a march on Aug. 9 to raise awareness for child sexual violence in the city of Cochabamba. This year, over 10,000 individuals joined in the march.

2014 Eastern graduate Janice Reigel attended the trip both this year and in 2013. She heard about Breeze of Hope when DeAngulo presented at Windows on the World. Reigel says that working with Breeze of Hope has changed her life, and “sense[s] God’s love more than ever, despite feeling broken hearted that so many children suffer from this awful crime.”

Solazzo says, “During my time in Bolivia, I realized that this is my calling in life and this is the type of work I will be doing for the rest of my life…Now that I am back in the States, I am going to work harder than ever to raise awareness for sexual violence.”
To participate in future trips to Bolivia through Breeze of Hope, contact Lauren Solazzo at lsolazzo@eastern.edu, or check out the Breeze of Hope website at http://www.abreezeofhope.org.

Sources: abreezeofhope.org

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