This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)
When we entered Bolivia our dear friend Andrea sent us a message saying, “You have to go by my aunt, he is in Santa Cruz!” We remember more or less the story of Mrs. Teresa, but having the pleasure of knowing it alive was really another thing.
We arrive at the Foundation’s address without any difficulty, as our Valentine has to confront some narrow streets and dozens of electric wires not too high but we are now accustomed to and with the size of our walking home we have to live together.
We have had the pleasure of being greeted by Mrs. Teresa, an energetic woman who wants to park in the school garden at all costs. We can not say no and so we come in with Lucia on the roof of the truck moving some wire too! Our Valentine finds a really welcoming space, so for the next few days we will be able to stay in a quiet place to do some work on the truck and of course to live the school, the children and all the nice teachers who work in the center.
But what is really the Casa Del Almendro foundation? The story starts a few years ago, and we found it so interesting that we think we should tell it on our blog.
Everything is born thanks to the will and energy of Mrs Crmonesi, a retired Italian physiotherapist who arrived here in Bolivia about twenty years ago. His initial idea was to provide volunteer service to some children’s care centers with psycho-neuro-evolutionary deficits, which he did for a couple of years, as he sensitized the issues he had faced and decided to found La Casa del Almendro.
In 1999, in the district of Santa Cruz called Bolívar, the Casa del Almendro was built, which initially provided a free physiotherapy service for the children in the district as well as those in the City Cerebral Palsy Center where Mrs. Teresa had volunteered.
It does not take much time and thanks to physical and economic efforts the house is being expanded, in fact a real ambulatory clinic is being built. However, Ms Teresa does not seem to want to stop, she strongly believes in the need to integrate assisted physiotherapy children in a kindergarten, which was not possible at school in the area at the time. So, with another great effort, the Global Care Center for Disabled Children is inaugurated.
But the evolution of the center does not stop, although in 2002 it can offer assistance to 25 children and for 15 of them also carry out the nursery service, at the beginning of 2003 the extension of the service also takes place for children without problems. This important step is to increase the stimulation of children with developmental deficits, in fact promoting communication and coexistence between them and healthy children facilitates social aggregation. Experience has proved to be a win, both as regards children’s schooling and social integration, as well as awareness of their families, which has always been problematic.
In January 2003, the center further extends its activity because it is also considered that the families of children in the neighborhood are also to be considered economically. To this end, a workshop for crafts and tailoring is created, especially for mothers of children with disabilities. These are very often single mothers, with serious economic problems that compromise their lives and that of their children. Production is geared towards local sales as well as providing some public schools in the neighborhood.
On November 4, 2004, the “Casa del Almendro” is institutionalized as “Casa de Almendro Foundation – Family Assistance Center for Child Development”.
The “Casa del Almendro” Foundation currently attends 150 children, of whom approximately 27% have psycho-physical difficulties. The institution also plans to offer primary education to the children who care for the facility.
Our Valentine was in the midst of so many recreations, at which time he was constantly surrounded by dozens of children who were incapacitated by an object at least out of place. Curiosity has created so many moments of interaction, and talking with little children, their parents and teachers, about our journey around the world, we must say it was curious and fun.
Knowing Mrs. Teresa and all of her collaborators was exciting, instructive and inspirational. These people and this place will stay in our hearts for a long time, both for the message of solidarity they have sent us and for the energy with which they daily carry on their hard work. Energy that we also want to forfeit to continue with our experience.
Grazie Sig.Ra Teresa, grazie Casa Del Almendro!