EIA – Engineers In Action – US based non-profit organization that created and funds FIEA

FIEA – Fundacion Ingenieros En Accion – EIA’s “Bolivian arm” – a Bolivian non-Governmental organization with a separate board of directors who is the Bolivian arm of EIA. The FIEA Board of Directors is responsible for the staff and oversight of all operations. They are funded by EIA.

UMC – United Methodist Church (of the U.S.)

EIA/FIEA –  EIA and FIEA often work very closely and can be somewhat interchangeable at times.

IEMB – Iglesia Evangélica Metodista en Bolivia (Evangelical Methodist Church in Bolivia) – an autonomous Methodist Church historically and in many others ways, tied to the United Methodist Church, but not under the authority of the General Conference of the UMC.

DDR – The Department of Rural Development within the IEMB

VIM – Volunteers In Mission (7-12 day Methodist Volunteer teams who come to do Medical and/or Construction work on ‘Methodist’ projects.)

VET – Volunteer Engineer Teams – local US church based groups of engineers and others who wish to do substantive engineering projects in Bolivia in cooperation with the IEMB.

GBGM – General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church – National Methodist Organization based in New York – Head of all missions work in the UMC


The Objective and Activities

The objective is to facilitate a productive alliance  between FIEA and the IEMB to develop and implement holistic development projects in rural Bolivian communities prioritized by the IEMB.

The goal of these projects is to provide to the communities basic services such as potable water, irrigation, sanitation, energy, erosion control, or other technology or infrastructure. Carrying out the projects requires 2-5 years, including phases of feasibility analysis, assessment, design, implementation, and monitoring.

The Need:

EIA grew out of the Methodist churches of Oklahoma and Bolivia. We became autonomous and secular because EIA/FIEA receives funding from secular sources; and because Rotary Clubs and Universities prefer to not work with ‘religious’ organizations.

However, there is still a great opportunities for us to work with the IEMB. There are many continuing connections between the two organizations. The IEMB is also committed to providing improved living conditions for the all of those in the communities where they work. And, by working through the Church, we will be able to add a spiritual dimension to the work and interaction between the teams and the communities.

The IEMB has many contacts and great knowledge of the needs in rural areas of Bolivia, which is a great resource for this ministry.


The Volunteer Engineer and the Partnership

The Methodist Liaison Engineering Volunteer  builds partnerships between the IEMB; Methodist Churches (and other churches) in the United States; and EIA/FIEA to conduct relatively long-term (3-5 years) infrastructure projects. The “In-country Volunteer Engineer is needed to provide coordination, communication, and project management. This is a hybrid job: combining the normal EIA project manager with a VIM in-country Coordinator/Spiritual guide.

Since EIA funding often comes from secular sources, we cannot use EIA funds to staff this position. The volunteer will have to raise their own support from local church groups, family and friends. EIA will assist you in your fund raising.


General Job Description:

The liaison, together with IEMB and FIEA, will carry out the following activities:

  • Will work for FIEA mostly at our FIEA office in La Paz.
  • Will work with the Rural Development Department and the Executive Committee of the IEMB and office some days (1-2) each week at the DDR office.
  • Will work with FIEA, DDR and the Executive Committee of the IEMB in the selection and prioritizing of communities for new potential projects. In some cases the Liaison Engineer may be working with EWB-USA teams to design and implement projects prioritized by the Church.
  • Do ‘pre-assessment’ trips to these communities to determine needs, resources/assets., and help the community to set development priorities.
  • Develop alliances between the community, IEMB, FIEA, volunteer engineers, local and national government bodies, Bolivian and international Rotary clubs, and more  in order to provide the necessary resources for the projects as part of a holistic, sustainable development system
  • Begin developing a ‘sustainability plan’,
    • Discovering potential partners who will help in the sustainability of the project such as: the formation of a Water/sanitation/irrigation Committee, The IEMB District leadership, the local Municipal leadership, nearby water cooperatives, and/or others; for the administration, maintenance, and sustainability of the project;
    • Technical and financial management training for the committee and all community members to operate, maintain and expand the implemented project, and in the appropriate use.
    • Establish a system for collecting funds to support appropriate operation, regular maintenance, and system expansion
  • Utilize the FIEA community selection process to evaluate the potential success for a project, and further improve the process of project implementation.
  • Develop an application form for Church teams to fill out.
  • Assist in the creation of Methodist or other church “Volunteer Engineering Teams” in the U.S.
  • Assign, with input from the Director of Operations and the Executive Director, specific teams to specific projects.
  • Once a project is ‘adopted’ by a “Volunteer Engineering Team” the Liaison will have the responsibility to work like a typical EIA staff person providing practical preparations, logistics, communications, timelines, materials purchasing, and assistance for the teams.
  • In addition, the Liaison will be responsible, working with the Executive Director and Assistant Executive Directors of FIEA, and the Secretary of Life of Mission of the IEMB, to develop ‘spiritual preparations’ and experiences for the teams (prayer partners & devotions led by the IEMB pastors etc.).
  • The Liaison, working with the EIA Director of Engineering, will also need to see that all projects get a third party technical review.
  • Will do all ‘between-trip’ work and visits to the community that are necessary.
  • In addition to the US churches funding the Liaison will look for local, and outside funding for the project (e.g. Municipal government).
  • The Liaison will also be available to assist with other FIEA and/or IEMB projects and activities to be a part of the their team.



  • Near fluency in Spanish and English
  • A BS degree in civil, environmental or humanitarian engineering or equivalent.
  • Minimum of a 12-month commitment (ideally more)
  • Fully self-funded
  • A Christian with a profound faith
  • Training by the “Individual Volunteer” Office of GBGM. This is a 4-day training done by GBGM on expectations, and volunteering for a long-term in a foreign country. GBGM has 4 of these seminars in the 4 corners of the US. The cost is only $200, including food and lodging, plus their transportation to the site. It covers such topics as the Theology of Mission, ‘Culture and Cultural Adjustments’, ‘Health and Safety’, Personal Boundaries, Visas, and Insurance. The director of the GBGM Long-term volunteer program stays in touch with the volunteer and the receiving agency (EIA) throughout their stay and will help if there are problems between the two. GBGM also provides a place to purchase insurance, and an avenue for friends/family to donate towards the cost of the Volunteer to come, and get tax credit for it. This will give us an added confidence that the volunteer will be coming with a realistic expectation of what it is like to volunteer for a year or longer in a foreign country. The volunteer will have to raise funds to cover this cost. (If you are already in Bolivia, we will discuss/negotiate this.)
  • (If you choose, you can look into becoming a UMC Missionary which is a 3-year commitment. This affords stable funding from the UMC and requires a 2-4 week training process.)


  • Experience with EWB or similar organizations
  • Experience working in the Developing world
  • A Methodist (not required if willing to work with Methodists)


Projected Impact:

  • We will be able to improve the quality of life in 3-4 additional villages, around 240- 320 families and around an additional 1,200 – 1,600 persons.
  • Impact the faith of US church team members through the sharing of the faith by Bolivian Methodists, participating in Christian works with some of the poorest people in South America; and encountering the Christ of the Poor in the Andes.


  • All personal costs for the EIA/IEMB Liaison will be covered by donations raised by the Liaison. EIA will provide assistance and advice for fund-raising.
  • GBGM will provide a mechanism for donors to receive IRS tax credit for their donations.
  • The  Volunteer Engineering Teams will need to fund all Liaison costs directly related to the project, once it is adopted by the church VET. These costs will include: food, lodging, and transportation of the Liaison when they are working with the VET; and transportation and per diem for any ‘between-trip’ excursions to the community that the VE Team deems necessary.

See “Estimated Costs for “In-Country Liaison Engineering Volunteer” for cost estimates.

“Hidden” costs paid by EIA:

Cell phones, ground transportation before a project is ‘adopted’ by a VE Team, utilizing office space, computer, office equipment, Staff retreat and so on. Vehicles, tools, surveying equipment, and other support equipment is available through EIA.

For more information, contact David Stephenson, Executive Director, Engineers in Action at: