Alma has a new partner project in Bolivia – the Trinidad Special Education Centre. This centre works to provide high-quality education to children with special needs in Trinidad, Bolivia.
Sometimes the greatest barriers to education can be the small things we take for granted, such as transportation. This is why Alma will not only be providing materials and physiotherapy, but also transportation for the children to get to the centre. Please read below the story of Lorena and Lizandro, two of the students attending the centre.
Lorena and Lizandro’s Story
María Lorena Arpuca is 19 years old and suffers from cerebral paralysis that affects the use of her arms and legs. For this reason, she cannot walk unaided and uses a wheelchair for mobility. Her brother Lizandro is 17 years old and has congenital hypothyroidism. Just like Lorena, he has mobility issues and uses a wheelchair.
Lorena and Lizandro are siblings, born with cerebral paralysis and congenital hypothyroidism, respectively. They live with their parents and younger brother. Both Lorena and Lizandro use wheelchairs that were donated by the National Government in 2015 to get around, and both of them have communication impairments.
Previously the family lived in a home with a tin roof and walls made out of wood and clay. However, with the national government’s help in 2008 they were able to build a small one-bedroom brick house. This home continuously flooded due to heavy rains in 2014, and therefore the finance company “Mutual La Primera” built the family a new home. This improved house is built on elevated land, has a tin roof and tin walls, as well as a wheelchair ramp for the children. Since the tin causes the house to get quite hot, Lorena and Lizandro sleep in a room made out of bricks in the back area of the home. Although the family has received help from national organizations for housing, very little has been done to ensure the children are provided education.
Lorena and Lizandro’s father is currently unemployed. He previously worked as a janitor and courier in the Trinidad Town Hall, earning the minimum wage of 1600 Bolivian Bolivianos (roughly $300 CAD). As he supports two families, he does not earn enough to take care of Lorena and Lizandro, and instead their mother is the home’s breadwinner. The mother earns her living by doing laundry in her home, but she is older and suffers from rheumatism in her hands.
The roads in Lorena and Lizandro’s neighbourhood are made of dirt and they cannot use their wheelchairs to get to school. Prior to Alma’s funding, their mother would bring one of the children to school in a “moto-taxi” (a rickshaw-type taxi on the back of a motorcycle) – however, there is no room for the wheelchair on the taxi. Thus, the wheelchair had to be left at home. At times she would have to use a rope to secure the kids to the motorcycle so they would not fall off. She alternated bringing Lorena and Lizandro to school this way, so they both had the opportunity to go to school at least two days per week. Unfortunately, her income is not steady. On weeks that she did not have any laundry to complete for income, she was unable to pay for a taxi and Lorena and Lizandro were not able to go to school.
This is why providing Lorena and Lizandro transportation to the Trinidad Special Education Centre is so important to Alma. Alma’s partnership with the centre began on June 23, 2016. Since June 23, a school transport vehicle has taken children like Lorena and Lizandra from their house and to school every school day. Now Lorena and Lizandro are able to attend their classes and their teachers have not only seen increased attendance but improved personal independence.
Thank you for supporting Alma and ensuring that every