healthcare work in Bolivia
Replies: 5 - Last Post: Oct 2, 2012 12:40 PM Last Post By: LCabroad
Oct 1, 2012 3:46 PM
healthcare work in BoliviaGreetings! I did a fair amount of peeking around on here to make sure this wasn't already covered...some similar topics have been discussed...however...
I'm looking for healthcare work in Bolivia. I am willing to volunteer my time, but not interested in/able to pay hundreds/thousands of dollars to be working. I have looked at heaps of organizations and have not found the right match just yet. I have been working as a public health nurse for the last year and a half and would like to do similar work in Bolivia. I will have about 3 months down there. Any insight is greatly appreciated. I have specialized in maternal and child health as well as special needs children and alternative therapies.
Thanks so much for your time. I have learned gobs from these forums!
Oct 1, 2012 4:46 PM
Oct 1, 2012 4:56 PM
2Well, this is not a recommendation as I have not been there, but here is a form letter from an Australian, a woman I met here in Mendoza , Argentina, a physiotherapist I believe,who was learning Spanish here before heading up to work in an orphanage in Bolivia on her own arrangement. She seemed to me unrealistically naive when I met her, but her subsequent info sent to me shows she walked the walk. She in fact started her own therapy project from scratch. I have not visited this orphanage, so cannot comment myself on the need and usefulness of volunteering there.
Tarryn heard about the place, and just went there herself to see if she could help. She did not do it through a volunteer recruitment organization (altho she got a Swedish NGO to channel funds through to her before she left to make sure the funds would be properly used). She was also savvy enough to know she needed to learn Spanish BEFORE she started volunteering to be of true help. This to me seems to be the proper way to go about helping people in another country, not just signing up for summer camp as so many trendy people do with "volunteer placement organizations" or language schools with next-to-useless "volunteer" components. You have to investigate and work on the ground intelligently to be of real help, and really be prepared to be your own supervisor of your own project even if working within another organization. Otherwise, you are just putting in time.
She wrote in the NGO newsletter about her experiences (third page):
Write Tarryn and ask, (here is an form email she sent to her contacts as a funds request no longer applicable):
"On Fri, Mar 9, 2012 at 11:05 PM, Tarryn Stott wrote:
My dear friends,
Thank you for taking the time to read this information. Below is a description of my experience of the orphanage I have been volunteering at in Cochabamba, Bolivia and what you can do to help.
I have spent the last three weeks at Centro Maria Cristina,... a government funded orphanage for people with disabilities. The Centre houses 54 people, male and female, aged 10-40 years. Most have been abandoned at a very young age and institutionalised for most of their life.
To say the facility is poor is an understatement. When fully staffed they only have four personnel to manage the children and one nurse. As there is a mixing of genders, and as sexual abuse amongst the orphans occurs, the staff are often forced to keep the orphans in a single room where they are able to supervise them. The smell of human defecation in this room is overwhelming and the only materials that they have are old, soiled, mattresses on the floor, which is where the orphans spend their days, sitting or sleeping as they have nothing to stimulate them. The orphans are also covered in horrific open wounds from fighting with each other, likely I believe for some sort of entertainment. They are unable to provide basic medications for epilepsy so some have frequent fits, and twelve of the orphans are incontinent, however they cannot afford pads for during the day so they often sit in piles of their own defecation. I have attached some photographs of the orphans in this room.
Since I arrived I have been trying to promote the importance of occupation to stimulate the children mentally and physically and, more importantly, improve their quality of life. This has been achieved through workshops I have conducted with the staff, with my wonderful translator Julia, on activities such as art, cooking, writing, dance and sport. Following the workshops I buy the necessary materials and the staff conduct the activities with the orphans. As I only have one month here, I believe for my work to be sustainable, change has to occur internally. The staff and orphans have been very motivated, and I have attached some pictures of a cooking activity. The aim of this activity was to encourage attention, sequencing, planning, fine motor skills, visual perceptual development and to increase body schema. Increasing body schema is a major goal as I hope that if the orphans have a greater understanding of self then the incidences of sexual abuse will decrease.
I considered linking the orphanage in with local schools, however only seven orphans have been deemed appropriate to attend school due to the stigma associated with disability, and inexistence of government funded education for people with special needs.
More volunteers are needed at this orphanage so I, along with other volunteers have also been contacting other volunteer companies, and humanitarian organisations to try and encourage more people to help. My friends Chad and Robert have already made some promising contact with Red Cross Bolivia and I have received positive feedback from Sustainable Bolivia about their ability to increase support. However, if you want to volunteer abroad I encourage you to consider this placement.
Once I leave there will be nobody to purchase the materials necessary for the daily activities. To ensure the longevity of this Project this is where I would greatly appreciate your help. Below I have listed a website where, if you like, you are able to donate to. This money will be managed by Projects Abroad once I leave, they are a licensed and trustworthy non-for profit organisation and they promise to send me receipts for all their purchases. Every dollar will make a huge difference in the lives of these orphans. As my final day in the orphanage is on Thursday, and as I would like to transfer the money for use before I leave, please ensure that if you are willing to donate, you do so by end of business hours this Tuesday. Sorry for the short notice.
Thank you to all who make a donation.
If you would like any further information please feel free to contact via email at email@example.com
My record here shows that I am pretty skeptical about most foreign volunteering (it has become a big business)
,but your post reminded me of this woman and her project, so thought this might be of interest to you or anyone else with the skills, commitment and discipline to actually be of some help.
Oct 1, 2012 6:52 PM
Oct 1, 2012 7:28 PM
4Good point, and, mason, you know far more about Bolivia than I..
First, I was clear to say that I was not making any recommendation. It is up to any volunteer to intelligently investigate the authenticity of the project up-close.
Second,this was Tarryn's own project, she went there on her own, was not recruited and did not apply, paid nothing to any organization, funded her own living expenses and found her own place to live and eat, brought and bought her own materials to work with the residents, and did follow-up on her own. She only used Projects Abroad, apparently (and perhaps unwisely), to later channel funds for other materials for the centre staff to use because they have an office in Cochabamba. It was not, and appears not to be now from looking at their website, a Projects Abroad project in Bolivia.
Projects Abroad IS principally a worse-case exploitive organization, and many of their projects appear to be silly jokes. I have criticized them, and organizations like them, in the past here. It is primarily a summer camp organization, like many.PA has been heavily criticized by participants on TT, for example:
I have just used Tarryn's project as a possible example of how an authentic volunteer experience MIGHT be approached.
Oct 2, 2012 12:40 PM
5mendocino-thanks so much for your post(s). I am familiar with Projects Abroad and don't think I'll head their direction, but you are right about making a personal project, etc. I have a feeling I will find where I can be of help once I arrive in country through talking with folks, etc. Any further input is welcome.
Edited by: LCabroad
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