Thursday, July 10, 2014

Debbie’s Project Reflection – Cohort 8

I arrived to the International Service office in Bolivia excited to be a part of something as entrepreneurial as this. I am currently working as a Cooperante Técnico in the Aldeas Infantiles SOS Project, Strengthening Families program.

My experience with this project has been amazing. I have had the opportunity to work in a team highly committed to their work and self-motivated. My initial idea when I got to the project was to contribute with my knowledge in psychology for the team planning, and hope for the people who we work with to benefit from this. But what I would never have expected was that this program could benefit me as much as it did with all the knowledge I have gained and the amazing experiences I have had.

The Strengthening Families Program works with families and vulnerable communities, trying to encourage children to develop with the support of their families. The main objective of this program is to develop families holistically. This means taking into account their needs of health, food and child care. In this program we focus primarily on strengthening and empowerment of women, as they are usually the ones who stay at home with the children, playing an important role in the community.

We made investigations and research to know the community and the specific needs that they have, and based on that, Anemia, Cervical Cancer and Breast Cancer presentations were performed in the community. We also developed our own leaflets and booklets, so that the information was accessible and available when needed.The focus of our breast cancer presentation was self-awareness and the importance of self-checking regularly. We also explained the signs and symptoms and handed out breast models made of balloons with flour to teach the proper way to examine breast tissue.

The presentation of cervical cancer had the purpose to set the importance of PAP testing (cervical smears) and all the mothers were signed up for a screening day. In the Anemia workshop gift bags were delivered to mothers, containing information on how to prevent and treat anemia, samples quinoa and spinach, and recipes for iron-rich foods. Every Thursday we go to the Hospital to visit children with Cancer. This was a specifically hard experience for all of us, because it’s hard to plan things when kids are sick to the point they don’t feel like doing anything. But the most important thing was we were there to share with them the most precious gift there is: Time; and I learned that if we can make at least one kid smile and forget about everything just for a while, then is all worth it.

I enjoyed this experience beyond imagination; I met people, worked and learned things I wouldn’t had the opportunity if it weren’t for this program. Every day I’m convinced there´s no better feeling than helping people and giving them tools to accomplish things in life, to take care of their loved ones and improving their lives quality. 

Written by Debbie Garcia
Editted by Desirée Benson

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