Where have all the children gone?
Where have all the children gone? PROJIMO.
Few children now frequent the facilities of PROJIMO, initiated as a
rehabilitation program for disabled rural children in Mexico, ever since the
organization begun accepting physically disabled and socially troubled young
PROJIMO (the Program of Rehabilitation Organized by Disabled Youth of
Western Mexico) began in 1981 as a community-based rehabilitation program
run by disabled villagers.
In its first years of operation, the program served primarily children
suffering from disabilities caused by polio or cerebral palsy. PROJIMO
quickly gained international recognition and became an inspirational model
for similar programs throughout the Third World.
But in 1983, PROJIMO took a decision that would transform the character of
the organization. That year, after much debate, members agreed to take in
Julio, a 15-year-old quadriplegic whose spinal cord injury was the result of
an accidental shooting. In taking care of Julio, the team of disabled
villagers had to learn an entirely new set of skills: treatment and
prevention of pressure sores, the use of catheters, bowel programs, exercise
activities, etc. They also had to develop ways of treating Julio's
depression, giving him a sense of self-worth.
Julio was followed by an influx of other young adults with spinal cord
injuries. Many of these young adults came from troubled and violent
backgrounds, such as Juan, an orphan who had made his way out of poverty by
trafficking drugs. Juan was left paralyzed in a shootout with enemies.
The new patrons have scared away PROJIMO's original audience. Parents fear
bringing their disabled children to a center frequented by people raised in
a culture of violence. The solution appears to be splitting PROJIMO into 2
organizations: one for disabled children and one for socially troubled
PMID: 12159267 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]