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Bolivia: CBM’s commitment to the scholastic inclusion of children with disabilities | TPI

Bolivia is a state that is characterized by the tense political and social situation, as evidenced by the fact that spontaneous strikes, demonstrations, roadblocks and riots can occur at any time. The rate of violence is high as is poverty, among the highest in Latin American countries, e the situation worsened with the Covid-19 emergency.

One of the most significant problems concerns the protection of children’s rights. In Bolivia, the school education of minors is really lacking, a factor that can only make us reflect on the future of an entire nation. In this context it operates CBM Italia Onlus, organization active in the prevention and treatment of avoidable blindness, present in Bolivia for the promotion of the visual health of children with disabilities with a view to a inclusive society in which each individual can express their potential.

CBM: a story of solidarity. Even in Bolivia

CBM (Christian Blind Mission) is an international humanitarian organization, founded in 1908 to include and contribute to the better quality of life of people with disabilities in the poorest countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America.

CBM Italia Onlus has been active since 2001 and in 2020 it carried out 38 projects in 14 countries, reaching over 1 million beneficiaries. Among his campaigns of particular importance is that Break the Cycle, born with the intent of break the cycle that binds poverty and disability with 26 projects in 12 states. Among these, the project “Inclusion strategies in social, health and education services. Operational Models for Accompanying Children with Disabilities in Bolivia (SI-AD) “, co-financed by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and developed in partnership with the NGO Don Carlo Gnocchi Foundation, the lead organization of the project, the International Voluntary Service for Development (VIS) organization and local counterparts in Bolivia.

A three-year project started in 2018 with the aim of putting the rights of girls with disabilities at the center by promoting access to health and school inclusion in the Department of Cochabamba through theapplication of the WHO Community-Based Rehabilitation Strategy-CBR. CBM, in synergy with the local partner FUNDASIL, is active through activities in schools such as visual screening and training of teachers and health professionals, but also incommunities where the distribution of visual aids and awareness raising events were carried out on visual care with the parents of children who have received assistance.

Visual pathologies, (the most common in Bolivia is cataracts even in childhood) when not caught in time can lead to more serious and complex problems to be treated, including blindness. They are the cause of disability, a condition which in turn leads to more livelihood difficulties and triggers problems of inclusion in the community. For the Cochabamba children having a visual pathology also means not going to school; the numbers speak for themselves and say that only 38% of children with disabilities between the ages of 6 and 11 manage to participate in educational activities. This is why the intervention of CBM Italia Onlus in Bolivia is crucial: only through an action of prevention, care and awareness in the communities is it possible to break the circle that binds poverty and disability.

Accomplished results

In March 2021, the contribution of CBM Italia to the project in Bolivia led to the achievement of the following results:

  • 729 visual screening in schools and municipalities of intervention.
  • 842 eye exams.
  • 542 visual aids delivered.
  • 35 people participated in the visual rehabilitation activities and 24 in the visual stimulation activities.
  • 813 pupils and 729 parents sensitized on visual health.
  • 500 health workers trained on visual health issues.

What has been achieved is already a great step forward, on a path that must continue to be pursued with the same commitment. Much remains to be done to make Bolivian society more inclusive.

The story of Elvis

Elvis is 9 years old and lives in Pucarita in the South area of ​​the Cochabamba Department with his parents, both teachers, and two older brothers who study. He was born with congenital cataract which was only partially cured when he was one year old through an operation on his right eye only, to which an intraocular lens was added after two years.

There was no rehabilitation, just simple bandaging. At school they thought he could see well, despite some difficulties in everyday activities.

Thanks to the intervention of CBM, Elvis was identified during the visual screening carried out in the school, to then be inserted in the visual rehabilitation program, including the optical aids that he had not previously benefited from. His family was also involved in the rehabilitation process, helping to improve Elvis.

Today, her eye health has improved as has her independent class work. His self-confidence has also made great strides along with tolerance towards situations that caused him discomfort

Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Bobr Times, Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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Teilor Stone

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