Atendi was founded in 2005 by Dr. Maria Corazon to help children with special needs in the face of much discrimination. Dr. Corazon has a great deal of experience working with the disabled and was moved to open the center to help children who were often locked away in dark rooms or abandoned by parents either unable or unwilling to take care of their children. The center looks after about 30 children up to fifteen years old and provides day-to-day care as well as therapy sessions for visiting children.
Atendi focuses on early stimulation of the child’s mind through a set program of pedagogy, physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, and psychology, in an attempt to teach the child to walk, talk, or eat independently.
Who does Atendi help?
Atendi helps children with both mental and physical needs, including such disorders as mental paralysis, autism, and Down syndrome. Most of these children come from poorer families who cannot otherwise afford treatments, and many also suffer from social problems such as abuse.
If you are interested in volunteer work with special needs children in Bolivia, Atendi is located in the Condebamba area, an easy thirty minute bus ride from the Cochabamba city center. It has a garden, physio and hydrotherapy rooms, a nursery, and kitchen. The permanent staff consists of eleven qualified health professionals.
At present Atendi does not have any specific programs, but they work in four areas:
- Physio and hydrotherapy
Volunteers with experience/knowledge may work in any of the listed areas. Those without previous experience are welcome to help in the school or kitchen, and can also take children on trips and initiate other activities.
Volunteer/ Internship requirements:
- High Intermediate level of Spanish
- Dedication and patience
- Willingness to work with children with special needs
- Knowledge in a related topic (desired but not required)
- Minimum commitment period of 1 month