Bolivian Bolsitas

August 1st

Bolivian mama and her baby

A bolsita is Spanish for small bag. I went through my zipper stash and my fabric to create 18 small bolsitas for my upcoming trip to Bolivia this month. I plan to fill each bag with a few goodies and hand them out to women who participate in our health projects.

Bolivian Bolsas

I went through my fabric and intentionally used pieces given to me by friends. I like the idea of women helping other women through art.

Thank you True Epicure

This fabric came from Eva, of True Epicure. Thank you!

Thank you Funky Finds

The lining fabric — colorful shoes — came from Jessica of Funky Finds. Gracias, amiga!

Thank you FinnyKnits

And Miss Finny, one of my favorite people, left this batik behind when crafting at my house. I love it paired with the bright African yellow lining!

Here’s is where you can help: I need suggestions on what to include in the bags. I need to keep each bag’s goodies at $5 or less. I’m thinking socks, chapstick, postcard of Arizona, bandana, energy bar and Hersey’s kiss.

What do you think these ladies would like? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Posted in
Domestic Art, Journal, Travel
Follow the comments.

32 Responses

  1. I think this is such a lovely idea! Socks, bandana, chapstick, all brilliant ideas. I wish had time to sew up some pouches for you too. Next time!

  2. is there some kind of over-the-counter med/product that is dirt cheap here that would cure/prevent some kind of health problem indgenous to the area? like quinine tablets (if malaria was an issue)? maybe 1-a-day vitamins for their kids? probably isn’t in the spirit of the handbag, but that’s what occurs to me.

  3. Your so kind!! I love your idea. Next time you plan something like this you’ll have to tell us all, then we can make bandana’s to put in. I think the things you’ve said to put in are cool. The photo of the lady with the baby is so beautiful.

  4. I say hit the Target dollar section for something fun.

  5. Pens or pencils if writing is part of their daily lives…

  6. Will the kisses melt? I love this idea, btw. Please let us all chip in next time and make some to send with you! 🙂

    Hmmmm, I think things like little chapsticks, hand lotion are good. Bandaids? (you know those little travel packs?), fruit snacks, small (cheap) jewelry? Like maybe little beaded bracelets or something?

  7. How about little mirrors? What a cool idea this is!

  8. Small toothbrush (the collapsible kind), toothpaste, small lotion, tootsie roll (won’t melt), aspirin….

    A few thoughts.

  9. ohh! you are so sweet Kelli… they are very happy with little things… i gift for my bolivian friends some coins from Chile, and they was so happy whith that. I think postcards it’s a great idea, and chocolate, √±ami….

    I went to Bolivia 3 times…in my summer i work like volunteer there. I went to Cochabamba, a beautiful place… Bellavista, all the people was so kind… i hope you have a great experience…

    a hug for you, i post today my pictures!

  10. What a fabulous thing! And I love that you used the shoe fabric on one of the bags!!! 🙂 What about some sunscreen? Does that come in trial sizes? Or lotion?

  11. KC's Dad August 1, 2006

    Kelli, you are such an imaginative and big hearted person. You make the rest of us feel embarrased we don’t do more. We are so very proud of your initiative and values. You are “good people” As far as the bolsita, how about a packet of herb seads or vegitable seeds.

  12. That is such a cute idea. I love the idea of lipbalm/handlotion (if they would use it?), postcard or piece of your home. Hmmm that is so tough!

  13. I remember hearing a story about some movie star traveling to India and handing out lollypops and candy to children who live in the slums. This seemed odd to me. Why give them things that rot their teeth and cause them more discomfort in the future?

    Something that tastes good and is good for them. Like Calcium chews (chocolate flavored), sugar-free gum, gummy vitamins.

  14. Ooh, I loved that batik fabric, too. I think I buy some batik something everytime I buy fabric. Glad it’s going to a good cause.

    I say include a sunscreen stick. Cheap, small, useful and good fer ya.

  15. Great idea! I would rethink the chocolate, maybe — it doesn’t usually travel well. And I like Melati’s idea of sugar-free treats.

    When we lived in Mali and I had a trip home to the US, our housekeeper always asked for cough drops and Tylenol (or other OTC painkillers). The perception was that American medicines were more effective. Maybe some of those little packets of Tylenol or Advil?

  16. Emergen-C!

  17. It sounds perfect! I like your idea for what to put inside, epecially because they probably don’t get to have little luxuries that often, so it would be a true treat. 🙂

  18. very cute bags. love the shoe fabric.

    i don’t have any suggestions for contents. sorry.

  19. I love the bolsitas! Very nice, especially the one made with batik.

    And I love the colors you chose for the baby dress. Very sunny and cheerful, and the style is very nice. I hope your next attempt works out for you!

  20. I think a small box of tic tacs and a 5 stick pack of gum would be wonderful inside those beautiful bags.

  21. rohankitter August 1, 2006

    Dh’s aunt and uncle travel to Vietnam regularly, and they say the ladies there go NUTS for any American toiletry. Those little travel-sized lotions, shampoos, etc that are always in the hotels are a BIG hit. I’ll bet you could get people to send/give you tons of those that they’ve picked up on their travels and never used. I have some in my guest room that the guests never use that I could send your way if you’d like.

  22. coming late to the comment party as usual…. i was going to recommend pens. my friend amy traveled all over the world a year, maybe two, ago and when she went to india she took ink pens instead of candy to give to kids.

    oh, i might have extras of hotel soaps if you want. i’ll check my under-the-cabinet stash and see what i’ve got.

    this may be silly or way to rudimentary to include, but what about sewing needles or needle kits? are needles easy/rare in bolivia?

    what about dental floss? would they find that useful? it’s so strong, really, that if they didn’t want to use it on their teeth, it will hold anything together that you’re sewing. and most dentists have those small round tins that they pass out on your check ups. if you’re interested in those, i’ll call my dentist to see if he can spare some; he’s a family friend, so he may (nudge wink) me amiable to my request. to OUR request.

  23. a very beautiful gesture.
    having lived in south america and still travel there, these wonderful, gentle people are so appriciative of anything. i know they would love gum.
    great work kelli.

  24. that it’s a good idea! tooth brush!!! were i work in Bolivia the kids, and all the people have problem whith that! sometimes, they don’t want to smile you for that reason…

    toothbrush and toothpaste!!!!

  25. Fantastic idea!! I was going to suggest lotion, too, and saw that other people suggested it. Perhaps the rough climate and high altitude made me think of that?? I have an undying fascination with Bolivia and working with women there to improve maternal health… ahh, someday… so I am happy to feel a little closer to that through you! I also like the idea of pens and pencils and little toothbrushes and toothpaste. Maybe little energy bars? safety pins? a compact mirror?

  26. I was going to suggest a little pocket mirror, maybe a cute hair clip. We took those tiny boxes of yogurt covered raisins to Nicaragua to hand out. That might be nice and healthy. But love the idea of toothbrushes and toothpaste too! Dont think you have to do this all on your own…we can help. Let us know what you decide on and we can all pitch in. Great work!!!

  27. Fabulous little bags! I love that you used those fabrics, so kind. Maybe hard candies instead of chocolate because of the melt factor… maybe even sugarless candies? I like the other suggestions of soap & pens and dental care. Whooo – what about stickers? I know they are grown women but even I find pleasure in stickers…

    Just don’t pack anything edible with soap because everythign will taste like soap – believe me.


  28. a lot of good ideas listed already. 🙂 would recommend: non-sweet sweets. chewable vitamin c? mulit-vitamin gummy bears? maybe peanuts (great protein). toothbrush for sure. usable/fun items like a pencils, notepads or hairbands. treats like a mini nailpolish or pack of cheap crayons. also make a litte (translated) card of the top 10 ways to keep your body healthy? or can you buy little mini first-aid type books? in spanish? definitely a postcard of where you are from. and also a ‘business card’ you create with contact info for both you and the nearest health clinic. phew. good luck!!

  29. Glad to see that you are enjoying the fabric, and that someone else will get to enjoy it as well!

    Love the pouches!

  30. is there a pattern for the Bolivian bolsitas? would love to make some.

  31. Google is the best search engine