Sandra and Andrea Prudencio are two sisters with a common dream. They work together to run Tree of Life, an early childhood center in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia. However, their studies and their passion to help children is taking them in a new direction. They want to expand their services to help children with special needs and their families.
In Santa Cruz, the parents of a child with developmental delays or a genetic disorder, such as Downs Syndrome, have very few resources for help. Pediatricians typically don’t have specialized training to give parents the information and supports they need. Those therapists that are available to assist in a child’s development come at a very high price and are only an option for affluent families. Middle class and poor parents are often left with no alternatives, meaning that the vast majority of children with cognitive and physical challenges do not get the treatment and stimulation needed to give them the best possible outcomes.
Sandra and Andrea want to change that. They have a vision to expand their early childcare services to include children with special needs. Sandra’s studies and work in the field of special education will provide the expertise for serving children with specific diagnoses and developmental delays. They also want to provide comprehensive training to parents trying to support them at home. The two sisters are working to establish a model in which parents able to pay the fees will enable the business to subsidize the services provided to low income families.
The day before we left Bolivia, I spent a morning with Sandra and Andrea walking through a strategic planning session. It’s always a rewarding experience when I can use my career skills for the benefit of the nonprofit staff we meet on this journey. As we discussed their vision, key objectives, service offerings and potential partnerships, we were able to bring more structure and action items to their short term and long term plans. It was fun to watch the sisters’ faces light up as we discussed how they could bring improved resources to parents wanting to give their children the best possible care. These women are clearly passionate about meeting a need currently being overlooked for many Santa Cruz families. As they move forward in their plans to support children with special need we’re going to keep in touch. I’ll do whatever I can to support them from afar. I’m excited for you, Sandra and Andrea! Keep up the good work!