Did you know that Sisters Hospitallers has launched a new project in Bolivia for children and young people who are disabled or living with a mental illness?
My name is Sonia Arnez and I am a Psychologist and Technical Coordinator at Sisters Hospitallers’ Puntiti Therapeutic Community in Cochabamba, Bolivia.
A bit of history
Since its arrival in Bolivia in 1966, Sisters Hospitallers Congregation has become a role model for caring for people who are disabled or living with a mental illness. To appreciate their hard work, the Government of Bolivia awarded it with the delegated administration of the Puntiti Therapeutic Community. This facility takes care of severely disabled children and young people since 1 September 1996.
Lead by the Hospitaller charism
The Puntiti Therapeutic Community currently accommodates 60 orphans and abandoned young people who have a range of disabilities. It provides 24-hour care all year long, following the Hospitaller spirit. Many families visit the centre seeking care for their disabled children. In Bolivia, statistics show that only 30% of this group receive some form of care. In 2017, motivated by the Hospitaller charism and our desire to face this issue, we began to dream of a new Hospitaller project.
This dream consisted of the construction of an outpatient centre, apart from the Puntiti Therapeutic Community, which would care for children and young people with disabilities. This non-profit clinic would include the following services:
– An outpatient clinic that focuses on rehabilitation and early stimulation for children under the age of 7 that have autism or other disabilities.
– Specialised mental health consultations.
– Other services that address social reality through the Hospitaller charism.
In 2019, funded by Fundación Telemaratón in Cochabamba, construction began. Despite it being halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is now been resumed. The building has two floors, with a stimulation clinic on the ground floor and a space for alternative therapies and support for disabled students enrolled in regular schools on the second floor.
With these new mechanisms, which are expected to be fully operational by 2022, we hope to enhance therapeutic efficacy, offer more human care, and individually target the potential of each child, while respecting their particular limitations and learning pace.
We continue to dream
We expect this expansion project to continue growing by creating outpatient consultation spaces for general medicine, psychiatry, neurology, dentistry, physiotherapy, psychology, and speech therapy. However, we are still waiting for funding to make this dream come true.
With the help of St. Benedict Menni and our founders, we will revive the project and address the needs of people who are suffering from mental illnesses but are unable to access healthcare.