Category Archives: Bolivia
These eight days visiting the CBM UK projects in Bolivia have passed so quickly and I am sad that today is my last day.
I spent the day with Gonzalo getting all of my notes in order and asking a few last-minute questions that would fill in the gaps in my research. Gonzalo and I had got on so well and he had been the perfect ‘walking guidebook’ for Santa Cruz. We’ve swapped email addresses so that we can keep in touch (I think he wants me to recommend him some good audio books!).
My fourth day in Boliva saw me visit a clinic called ‘Aprecia’ in Santa Cruz de la Sierra which caters for the needs of people with various visual impairments including cataracts and blindness through to diabetes, glaucoma and eye injuries.
My translator, Gonzalo, was blinded eight years ago as a result of diabetes and as we walk together in the morning from the hotel to the clinic, he fills me in on life in and around Santa Cruz.
After another early start, I managed to get my flight on to Riberalta, which saw me travelling further north in Bolivia. My next stop would be the Arca Maranatha Deaf School.
When I arrived, I was met by the head of the school, Andreas Kolb (who is deaf himself) and his assistant Carol. They were thoughtful in coming to the airport to welcome me because I didn’t realise that car taxis are unheard of in Riberalta. I would have had to balance my suitcase and camera equipment on the back of a motorbike, so I fully appreciated their offer of a lift!
The school was lovely – teaching around 30-40 pupils in the morning classes and running workshops and classes in the evenings for the older students, parents and trainee teachers.
I arrived early in the morning at Trinidad in Bolivia, and after dumping my bags at the hotel I went straight out into the muggy tropical air to visit the first of the projects that I had been sent to report on.
The Clinic wasn’t too far out of town and I bounced along in an old Nissan Sunny to where the new hospital had just been built, complete with an Operating Theatre that provides a much needed service of advanced medical care in the area.
The clinic saves money by making ear moulds that a local dentist helped to design. He came up with a way of making them locally using his knowledge as an orthodontist. His design has helped the clinic to cut the cost of importing them in from elsewhere.