Eye-Opening Trip to Bolivia

This summer my daughter Emily and I had the opportunity to travel with Rob Weich, of A Better World, to Bolivia. Since I am a Physical Therapist, we chose to work with the Ame Project run by Gheorghe Micoti in Santa Cruz. Ame has two active shelters: one for individuals with mental disabilities (Shelter 2) and the second for individuals with physical impairments (Shelter 1). We had the opportunity to assess the residents and provide exercise programming. We saw the need to establish some group exercises for both shelters, and purchased exercise bikes for the shelters from money we had raised doing a benefit concert in the winter. Physical Therapy is not urgent care, it requires time and dedication to be successful. It was clear to me that for individuals who wanted to improve their function we could have a good impact in their life. It was good to see what the needs were on the ground. I am now able to bring appropriate equipment on the next trip.

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We had the opportunity to visit other projects in the area. We spent some time at Cerenide Orphanage. My daughter, who is 17, was strongly impacted by the work done at Cerenide; she has decided she wants to return to that project next spring. She hopes to bring Ukeleles and recorders for the children and teach music. At present she is making preparation and we plan to have another benefit concert in the winter to support this effort.

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Our trip to Bolivia was eye-opening. Bolivia is not a “high profile” country. There are not multitudes of NGO’s providing support. The people we met were amazingly resilient and welcoming. For us we came back thankful and committed to the role we all have as part of a global community.

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– Patti Vaillant