Manuela Gandarillas is a Rehabilitation Centre established in 1952 for blind children and adolescents in Cochabamba, Bolivia. It is designed to provide these children and adolescents with visual rehabilitation services and integration into the formal education system, seeking to leverage accessibility and assist the students in achieving independence. The Centre relies wholly on donations and grants, and a small yearly fee from each student, as it is a non government organisation.
Music Project (Proyecto del Área de Música)
The idea behind this project is to empower the youth at the Centre further by providing them with specialised music skills to not only show their creativity and as an avenue to express themselves, but also to excel the process of rehabilitation while providing skills that increase their chance of future career opportunities. Funds raised for this project through TIA provided:
- Two professional music teachers on a permanent basis to work 4 hours per week with the children and adolescents at the Centre between 2009-2012 in the areas of voice, recorder, rhythm, and theory.
- Return visit by Tessa in 2009 highlighted the amazing work being achieved within a few short months. TIA bought a Bass Guitar upon request by some student who wished to start a band.
Incredible results - some of the students went on to study at the Music Academy in Cochabamba. In 2012, this project was recognised by the government, and the music teachers are now funded by the local government as permanent staff at Manuela Gandarillas!
Computer Project (Proyecto del Laboratorio de Computación)
This project was carried out at the end of 2010 when Tessa returned to Bolivia for 3 months.
The aim of the Centre is to cut the bond of dependency that often exists between the visually impaired person and their educators, to ensure that the student is independent in doing their homework and in all other areas of their study. The use of current technological aids is fundamental in enabling this process of independent study. The increasing reliance on technology and technical aptitude required in the labour market lead to the concern that the students at the Centre will be left behind and further disadvantaged. TIA worked with the centre in creating a program aimed at equipping the Centre with a computer lab and training program. We provided:
- 6 desktop computers on which we installed a specialised screen reader program called JAWS (JAWS reads aloud what is on the PC screen).
- A Braille Embosser, allowing them to print large volumes of text and replace the labour intensive and time consuming task of creating Braille Texts by hand or by typewriter.
Together with the Centre we worked on ways to make this a sustainable project, aiming to find a way for to produce an ongoing maintenance fund to be a safety net in case there are any technical issues with any of the equipment.
This government lead orphanage is where Tessa first volunteered during her visit in 2008 before founding TIA. The orphanage houses up to 85 children, ages ranging from 0-14 years. Most of the children who live at the orphanage come from families who cannot afford to care for them, or who are abusive and/or alcoholic. Many of them have faced enormous hardship and have experienced trauma that no child should ever experience.
The hygiene conditions are very poor, leading to the children constantly getting sick. Lack of staff and constant change of administration leaves these children with no steady ongoing support and care. Their development is far behind that of children in more stable environments.
The Water Project (El Proyecto de Agua)
At the time Tessa was volunteering, the water system at the Ciudadela has been deteriorating. It eventually got to the point where there was no running water to any of the houses that the children live in, and the water coming out of the taps in the rest of the orphanage was black and contained unsafe chemicals. TIA partnered up with Projects Abroad, a German based organisation Escuelita Cochabamba, and BridgIT Water Foundation to replace the entire water system and provide clean running water to all of the houses and buildings within the centre.
Results - In January 2011, with funding from TIA, BridgIT, Projects Abroad, and Escuelita Cochabamba, a group of volunteers through BridgIT, Projects Abroad, and Tessa worked together to remodel the entire water system at the orphanage and complete the job in less than a month! Now the children have clean, running water to all of the houses and their general health and wellbeing has skyrocketed!
In early 2009, TIA was approached by Escuelita Cochabamba e.V., a German non-profit organisation which also works with Ciudadela SEDEGES to assist in paying for the wage of the Doctor who works with the children at the orphanage. Consequently, TIA paid for 4 months for Dr Lucy Moran’s wage, ensuring that the children get regular health checks and are treated for any ailments they contract. Subsequently, TIA also provided Dr Moran with medical supplies to be able to treat the children effectively.
By preserving the integrity of the children’s nutrition and health, their intellectual development and behaviour will directly and indirectly be improved. TIA worked directly with Silvia (one of the educators employed at the pre-school within the orphanage) to develop this project. The specific objectives were to:
- Develop hygiene principles and food care
- Develop positive eating habits
- Advise on food ingredients and contents
- Strengthen their knowledge on different foods
- Foster care, concentration and develop motion control, self-confidence, and responsibility
TIA provide a refrigerator and an oven to facilitate this project.
Hogar Nidito Child Care
An increase in the rates of single mothers or cohabiting teenage mothers attending CEA and bringing their children to class was causing both the neglect of the children and interference with classes, disrupting both the mothers learning as well as the class as a whole. In 2011, TIA in collaboration with the staff and students at CEA, developed Proyecto Hogar Nidito as a solution to this problem. TIA developed a child care centre within CEA to care for the children of students (approximately 5-10) attending classes at CEA to provide an improved and less disruptive learning environment for the students, as well as a more stimulating and nurturing environment for the children.
The young people at CEA are full of enthusiasm and a desire to learn and reach their full potential. At CEA they believe in a holistic approach to education, teaching lots of different technical skills and life skills as well as mainstream education. Through discussions with the students and staff at CEA, TIA agreed to support a couple of microfinance projects to give students the opportunity to learn how to operate a business and learn skills that will be applicable when they finish school. It also brought in ongoing sustainable funds to finance the child care centre that TIA set up at San Jose.