Robert is the Project Coordinator for QBL-US.
Robert Vincent is the vital link who coordinates the flow of information between the US and our partner organizations in Britain, and Bolivia. At least once each year, he makes an extended trip to Bolivia to confer with the Bolivian board, tour the projects and send back detailed reports to the other two boards. Throughout the year, he corresponds by email and phone with Lourdes Tantani, the Bolivian QBL director, and gets monthly reports from the Bolivian staff. He also participates in the monthly telephone conferences and annual in-person meetings of the American board, answering questions about projects and operations, relaying information between groups.
Fluent in Spanish, Robert was reared in Cushing, Oklahoma, where he took four years of the language in high school. “I took a one-week mission trip to Guatemala while I was still in college, but when I went down to work as a volunteer in Lima, Peru, after graduation, I realized what a really good base I had been given in high school. It was like a frozen river that had thawed. Once I was there, it all came back to me,” he recalls.
In 2001, Robert came back to the States after volunteering in Peru for three years, coordinating volunteers and activities and doing translation and administrative work for another organization. He had been in Claremont, California for four months, had recently started attending a Friends meeting and was planning to enter the Claremont School of Theology. One fateful Sunday morning he met QBL founders Ken and Pam Barratt on the parking lot of the Claremont Friends Meeting. The three of them got to talking, and after a long conversation that afternoon, Ken and Pam had suggested that he could become the coordinator for the QBL project committee.
“I really appreciate the relationship I have with the board,” Robert reports after nearly a decade of partnership. “They’re great to work with. QBL is a small but very effective organization. We’re able to do projects that have a significant and lasting impact–and we get to see the results!”
In addition to getting to travel in a spectacularly beautiful country on a regular basis, Robert finds that getting to know the Bolivian people is another bonus. Bolivia is a country that has undergone a great deal of political and social change in recent years, and he is impressed by the tenacity and strong sense of activism in the Bolivian people. Probably the most rewarding part of his job, though, he says, is seeing how much the villagers appreciate what QBL has helped them to achieve. “They’re a closed people. They don’t express a lot of emotion. But even some of the men have been moved to tears at the inauguration of a new QBL water system or greenhouse.”
He’s happy to be able to work with congenial people in a job that offers both tangible and spiritual rewards.