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The Manuela E. Gandarillas Rehabilitation Center for the Blind

The National Center for the Rehabilitation of the Blind was founded in 1952.
The organization began as a vocational school for visually impaired women. In 1976, the establishment changed its name to The Manuela E. Gandarillas Rehabilitation Center for the Blind (named after a blind heroine of the War of Independence) and extended its services to children and adults of both sexes.

The Center is an extension of the Instituto Boliviano de la Ceguera. It provides rehabilitation, educational and integration services to individuals with visual disabilities who are seeking to live independent lives. The Center helps people from all over the department of Cochabamba, offering permanent residence to those from more distant locations.

Who does the Center help?
The Center is open to serving visually impaired individuals from all sixteen provinces of Cochabamba. The Center currently has twenty permanent residents and fifteen young people who attend in the day.

Working conditions
The Center is centrally located in Cochabamba and has a permanent staff of fourteen.

The Center’s Programs:

The rehabilitation program focuses on providing visually impaired individuals with sensory and cognitive abilities that will enable them to live more independently. This is especially important for people who have lost their sight later in life, as these activities prepare individuals for everyday activities such as personal hygiene, dressing, cooking and other activities that may have once been easy, but are now challenges.

There is a focus on improving the means of communication available for the visually impaired. Through learning alternative ways to write, an individual can restore himself with the freedom attributed to being able to express oneself. The Center utilizes Braille, abacus, electronic aids, and computers for educational purposes. Special education teachers are also on hand to adapt national curriculums to better suit visually impaired individuals.

Early Attention:
Early Attention is a form of therapy designed to develop and stimulate motor, sensory, and cognitive skills through exercises and games.

Social work/psychology:
The social work program promotes individual well-being by way of emotional, familial, and social support. There is also a specific focus on facilitating integration into the community. There are also programs which seek to provide support for families of the visually impaired.

Workshops are a great way to stimulate creativity and expression, especially through music and handicrafts. The workshops are designed to excel the process of rehabilitation while providing skills that may lead to potential employment.

Volunteer/ Internship requirements:

  • Intermediate Spanish
  • Motivated and patient
  • Ability to use initiative in designing and elaborating workshops
  • Experience in one of education, psychology, medicine, or working with the visually impaired
  • Minimum commitment period of one month