Volunteering at the Centro de Miembros Artificiales "Matthew Pepe", La Paz, Bolivia

by M.

I volunteered for one month at the prosthetic clinic in La Paz. The clinic provides free or inexpensive prosthetics to those who cannot afford them. It is one of the best volunteer experiences that I have had and one of the best experiences of my life. The center provides opportunities for so many people: amputees and their families, local businesses, and volunteers from all over the world. Many amputees have no chance of affording a USD3,000 to 5,000 prosthetic from other clinics, but because of the Centro, they can hope to walk again. The Centro sources all possible materials from Bolivia, supporting local vendors. Volunteers have the opportunity to work in an amazingly large variety of fields as compared with other organizations. They can help write grants, create videos, or work hands on with prosthetic technicians to help build prosthetic limbs.

The Spanish in La Paz can be considered the most neutral accent so is a great place to learn or improve Spanish as a second language. La Paz can also be used as a base camp for exploring the altiplano area of Bolivia, although you may not want to leave after being a part of the clinic.

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Oct 07, 2011
Volunteering at the Centro de Miembros Artificiales, La Paz
by: C

I volunteered at the Centro de Miembros Artificiales "Matthew Pepe", La Paz, Bolivia for one month. Initially, I was only supposed to volunteer for three weeks but I pushed it out for one week longer as I loved working at the clinic. I would have liked to stay longer but due to travel commitments I unfortunatley was unable to. I based my days around 2 hours of spanish and working at the clinic.

For me this was a whole new world that I never knew existed, so many Bolivians have lost limbs due to acidents and they have little chance of ever being able to afford a prosthetic leg. However, now due to the Clinic they can dream of being able to walk and perhaps work again and live a normal mobile life.

At the clinic, I worked on various projects. Everyday was totally different and interesting. The technicians at the clinic are extremely inovative and are continually searching for new and better techniques to inprove the fabrication of prosthetics. I worked on a sand casting technique to allow the clinic to make casts of patient´s limbs in a faster, cheaper, and better way that their current method.

At the clinic you have the opportunity to work alongside the Patients, Prosthetic technicians, Doctors, Management staff and other volunteers. It is very rewarding to talk to the patients, hear their stories and to see the joy and apprehension they have for their new prosthetic limb and the Centre staff. It was an awesome experience and I would thoroughly recommend to anyone to volunteer at the Clinic.

Aug 17, 2011
Volunteering at CMA
by: Anonymous

I spent a month working at CMA working on a cosmetic calf for the prosthetic. Not only did I learn new words for alsorts of tools and materials in spanish but also a whole new host of skills in making things and experimenting with different materials.

Spending weeks stuck up with silicone and leaving a trail of styrofoam everywhere really did have a purpose after all! Seeing someone walk with their new prosthetic, for the first time in years, is so rewarding. To see someone giving all there energy to walking again, up and down the parallel bars, is a wonderful sight.

Thank you to the technicians for patiently waiting for me to explain (or act out with the aid of spanglish) what i needed help with and to Matt for being supportive of even some of the less conventional ideas. It´s been a fantastic month and I hope to stay in touch and hear of all the progress being made at the clinic. It´s a brilliant cause.

Thanks to everyone at CMA, it´s been awesome :-)

Aug 04, 2011
Thank you for sharing!
by: BoliviaBella

I'm really glad you shared about your experience with this organization. I'll make sure Matt sees your story. It should really brighten his day.

Thank you for your generosity with Bolivia! :-) Bella.

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