Meet Juliana from the Trinidad Centre for Special Needs


Juliana Catima Álvarez is an eight-year-old girl in first grade at the Trinidad Centre for Special Needs (TCS). She went to school for the first time in 2016. Juliana suffers from down syndrome and has communication problems since she cannot pronounce words. However, she is able to gesticulate very well to communicate. She is quiet and shy.

Juliana is the youngest of four children and was born when her mother was 45 years-old. Her mother did not know that the TCS existed for children like Juliana until last year. Thankfully, a workshop was completed in a school near Juliana’s home. At this workshop her mom discovered TCS. After the workshop, Juliana started attending the TCS. However, her attendance was not consistent.

This is for a couple reasons. First, Juliana suffers from knee problems. Juliana’s kneecap falls out of place so that she is unable to walk sometimes. Also, her mother has been diagnosed with diabetes, works every day and rarely has time to take Juliana to school.

Juliana lives in a house with nine other people. The house only has three bedrooms – one where Juliana and her parents sleep, another room is used by a sister who is a single mother of one child and in a third room her other sister with her husband and two children. The married sister runs a small store (bodega) where she sells groceries in the front part of the house. This way she can help pay for some of the household’s utilities such as water and electricity. They have a small kitchen in the front and one rustic bathroom with a wooden toilet in the back.

The financial maintenance of Juliana, her parents, and her single sister depends on Juliana’s mother who works washing clothes or as a household maid. Juliana’s father works sporadically as a bricklayer but recently had to undergo surgery due to a hernia and cannot work. Due to Juliana’s knee problem, her father used to drop her off and pick her up in a taxi. However, when he got sick Juliana stopped going to classes. For this reason, she was selected to be helped by Alma’s transportation program at the TCS.

Since then, Juliana has been absent from class only three times when she was sick. In classes, she has improved her fine motor skills and has managed to control her bowels. She has improved little in physiotherapy sessions due to the fact that her knee problem requires a surgery and is advised not to perform physical efforts. In that sense, her sessions have been scarce according to the recommendation of the physiotherapist.

Alma is proud to provide transportation to children like Juliana and to support the Trinidad Centre for Special Needs.