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Ana Elisa in Bolivia: "Since I've been back, there's no barrier I don't try to overcome!

Ana Elisa in Bolivia: "Since I've been back, there's no barrier I don't try to overcome!

Ana Elisa "left her mark" on the Bolivian project
Ana Elisa "left her mark" on the project from Bolivia
Ana Elisa is a psychologist and knew that her profile was very valuable in NGOs that work with people with different abilities. Especially in Bolivia, where disability is still a taboo around which there are numerous prejudices. For a month, in September 2017, he volunteered with young people with cerebral palsy, language difficulties, etc. What surprised you the most? "The enthusiasm, strength and happiness of these people."

In Bolivia you collaborated with two different projects that work with young people with disabilities. What tasks did you do?

The first project is a Early Stimulation Classroom. There he collaborated Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. There he worked with the youngest children in the center. He tried to identify in which area each child needed more support, and offered it to them. It also had an office to answer the questions of parents regarding the level of development of their children, since I am a psychologist. I also prepared and taught a course, for parents who wanted to sign up, on nutrition in childhood and adolescence and eating disorders.
To the Equestrian Therapy Center He went Monday and Wednesday afternoon and Tuesday and Thursday the whole day. There he took care of the horses and attended to the boys and girls. Taking advantage of my training, Before each equine therapy session, I did exercises with each group of children. to work on aspects such as: reinforcement of self-esteem, confidence, social skills, etc. I started participating in the equine therapy sessions as an assistant but... I ended up teaching some of them!

How is work in an Early Stimulation Center?

We divided ourselves to work with each boy or girl on what was most complex for him or her. For example, a child with cerebral palsy was working on body posture and psychomotor skills. I proposed and helped him in his exercises, such as taking sticks with both hands and inserting them through the mouth of a bottle. Another girl had language and behavior difficulties, I worked every day with her the repetition of names of numbers and colors through some cards. At the same time, he was trying to manage those aspects of his behavior that he needed to work on, such as frustration tolerance.
Ana Elisa with some of the children from the Integral Therapy Center
Ana Elisa with some of the boys and girls from the Comprehensive Therapy Center

Were the groups small in order to better help the little ones?

Yeah! At the Early Stimulation Center, I used to work with between 4 and 6 children. In equine therapy, sometimes it was a group of 5, others of 2, others of 4. Never more than 10 children.

Were there other people collaborating with the projects? How did you get along with them?

At the equestrian center I met other volunteers and the experience was great! We made a lot of friendship, especially with a girl. Bolivia gave me a new friendship in Germany through volunteering!

During your volunteering, you met people who worked on the projects, what was it like collaborating with them?

Very good, there was collaboration at all times. They were very grateful for my help and for that they made me feel very comfortable in both places. Great workers, but better people without a doubt.
Ana Elisa working mobility with Mateo and his new German friend
Anna Elisa working mobility with Mateo and his new German friend

Do you think horse therapy helps children with disabilities? How?

I had read a lot about horse therapy, but it was the first time I saw it work live. Now I can assure you that it helps the boys and girls, a lot! I witnessed two foster girls' self-esteem and confidence improve over the course of 8 weeks. Little by little they achieved goals through the connection with their horses. I am sure that the work done with these wonderful animals with time and continuity can be extrapolated to all areas of their lives.

What surprised you the most about the experience?

At the Early Stimulation Center, the people who worked were committed and with a sensitivity to be appreciated. I could tell how each one of them worked there because it really came from their hearts to help those boys and girls. It was something very nice to perceive that climate!
At the Equestrian Center, the surprise was given to me by the boys and girls who attended equine therapy. Each one with their difficult life story and yet with that strength, enthusiasm and happiness to carry out the therapy and improve! There was a group of girls who made me smile every day. It was very difficult for me to say goodbye to them and today I remember them constantly.
Ana Elisa with some of the kids from the project
Ana Elisa in Bolivia with some of the children of the project.

And what did you like the least?

The ignorance about disability in Bolivia He made me listen to stories that left me stunned. He was aware that it existed, but he did not imagine that it would be so many.

You stayed with a Bolivian family, how was living together?

The relationship with the family could not be better, I felt like one more daughter! We went out together, we went sightseeing, shopping at the market and they introduced me to all their relatives. Being with them was like having a second family. We keep in touch by WhatsApp!

What things did you learn on your solidarity trip?

The ones who have taught me the most in my experience as a volunteer are the boys and girls. I can only thank you for how much you have enriched me as a person. His effort, his daily struggle, his perseverance, his courage and of course their smiles have opened my eyes to many realities.
I have always considered myself a very sensitive person but with a great spirit of changing and improving things. Even so, I felt that I had barriers in my life and thanks to those little ones I have returned with passion as the motto of my life, and now, there is no barrier that he does not try to overcome.
Ana Elisa collaborated with the Early Stimulation Classroom and with the equine therapy workshop for people with different abilities in Bolivia from September 6 to October 18, 2017.

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