Unfortunately a social stigma against people with a disability is still prevalent in Bolivia. To the extent that some people are ashamed to leave the house or are kept hidden and a secret by their family. It is not uncommon for people to be abandoned at the hospital due to social and economic issues and be burdened financially from their illness for the rest of their life. However, attitudes are changing in Bolivia; we aim to help this change this by helping our patients realise what they can do, not what they can't.
We are lucky enough to have a very talented and experienced prosthetist who has been with Funprobo from the beginning. Florencio is highly skilled in making and fitting both above and below knee prosthetics, with his attention to detail to the nth degree. We also have Bismark, our prosthetic student, working full time in the clinic. Over the last year Bismark has blossomed under the watchful eye of Florencio and is now fully competent and confident in above and below knee prostheses as well. Over the last few years we have also started to look into working with 3d printers to create upper limb prosthetics. This is still a work in progress, but we hope to improve on this as we learn more and listen to our patients. The prosthetics we provide are all built from scratch in our workshops and all materials are bought and sourced locally. By resourcing locally with both our materials and workers we keep things sustainable as well as helping the local economy and the country. Sourcing all materials locally also keeps costs down; allowing us to help more people with the money we have.
Providing the prosthetic is just the start of helping people back on their feet. Our prosthetists are very skilled at gait analysis and giving confidence to our patients. Ivonne, our centre manager, is a great source of psychological support and plays a counselling role to many of our patients who need guiding through the process and acceptance of their new life. We also aim to provide Physiotherapy as often as we can recruit a volunteer with training.
The time spent in the clinic with our team is very important to our patients as these sessions build confidence and help people learn to work with their new limbs. This is essential to start people realising what they can do, as they say the first steps are the hardest.
The clinic is also set up in an open and relaxed environment where people can share experiences, feel confident in themselves how they are after an amputation, discuss any concerns or worries and meet other people who will understand what they are going though. This is hugely important in the process of receiving a new limb and the acceptance and confidence of going back out to their new lives with a life changing prosthetic.