Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Starting From Scratch

Some people bite off more than they can chew. That describes how I feel; except I didn’t take that gargantuan bite… some less-than-lovely folks in La Paz threw a curve ball at Centro de Miembros Artificiales and it landed right in my mouth. I’m catching my breath from time-to-time, but still unable to chew this wad of work down into a manageable size.

To reiterate; approximately one month before our arrival in La Paz, the prosthetics clinic I am volunteering at was forced to move locations and due to other complications also lost all of its equipment. So, rather than showing up here and observing a fully functioning prosthetics clinic to critique where/when/how I might add to their practice, I find myself purchasing fabrication equipment in a foreign country (one in which nothing is advertised online), planning work flow in the lab, advising on lowest-cost-possible-McGyver-style fabrication setups, delegating tasks to part-time volunteers, and giving general operation guidance. I must say I am lucky to have become one corner of the triangle that is strong enough to get this much needed prosthetics clinic up and running again. The other two corners of the triangle are Matt (the American co-founder of the clinic, currently hogging all the American bandwidth to email and skype with us 24/7) and Ivonne (permanent volunteer clinic manager) the never-tiring, hardest working, loveliest, humanitarian Bolivian grandmother who does everything.

Our goal at Centro de Miembros Artificiales is to be operational as soon as possible (2 more weeks?) so that the two Bolivian prosthetic technicians can come back to work and we can all continue the service of providing the best possible functional prosthesis free of charge to the underprivileged amputees of Bolivia.


  1. What an opportunity! To build a clinic the way you think it should be built. You have the capability and the expertise and are there for such a time as this. God's timing!

  2. Duane, as things were cratering around us just before your arrival I was wondering what to tell you and what you were going to think if we were out of business :). Your imminent arrival was just one more reason that Ivonne and Dante and I decided that the center WOULD NOT FOLD!

    I just prayed you would be a good sport and help us start again from scratch and be our expert adviser - and I am so glad and lucky that that is what you did. THANK YOU!!!!

    Matt Pepe