By Lic. Maria del Carmen Galván Rivera
The Lupita Project is a charitable organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of those among us who have limited resources and suffer disabling infirmities. The Lupita Project addresses their quality of life and assists where possible with the gift of independence and mobility.
The Lupita Project has its origin over 16 years ago, when its founder, Andrew Glassman, realized that medical equipment considered un-rentable in the U.S. by virtue of age or cosmetic imperfection, could have a long and productive second life in Huatulco and the coast of Oaxaca. In collaboration with the DIF, Desarrollo Integral de la Familia, the Mexican agency that assists families, he began a program of importating used wheel chairs (manual and electric), as well as walkers, canes and crutches donated by Medical Supply Houses in the U.S. and Canada. These were distributed by the DIF to children and adults selected by them on the basis of need.
The project has grown organically over time, but its name, momentum, and focus was defined when the DIF introduced us to “Lupita,” who had been confined to bed for 30 years after sufferning a traumatic brain injury when she fell out of bed at the age of two. Despite all the love and attention of her family, Lupita’s quality of life was marginal. She was isolated and confined to bed, or spent periodic moments in an old, non-working and inappropriately sized wheelchair. Through the efforts of many volunteers and donations by Sherman Oaks Medical Supply, she now has a state-of-the-art, tilt-in-place wheelchair and Hoyer patient lift to get her in and out of bed, an adult crib for her security and comfort, as well as a TV, fan and handicap ramps.
Despite MRI assessment and neurologic evaluation, Lupita’s physical condition has not changed. However with occupational therapy, regular physical therapy, feeding and postural education, as well as the socialization stimulation brought with the TV, her quality of life is much improved.
Probably the greatest benefit of our relationship with Lupita has been the doors and awareness that have opened for many other families who suffer from the obstacles that come hand-in-hand with special-needs patients.
Now, four years later, the “Lupita Project” has evolved into 5 specific areas of service. In its current home in the DIF Huatulco, we have full-time staff, a consultation room, a prosthetic lab, a reception office and a physical therapy dept.
- Physical Therapy: In the last 12 months we had 420 physical therapy visits and 80 hydrotherapy visits, with therapy rendered by local staff supervised by Dr. Katelyn Ganev, a PhD physical therapist, who donates her time and attention to construct custom therapies determined by need.
- Prosthetic Limb Replacement: In the last 12 months in our small but efficient Prosthetic Lab, we have delivered 14 prosthetic limbs, above and below the knee. These prosthetics are free of charge or at nominal cost to those who have some but limited resources.
- Medical Equipment Donation: We have delivered more than 70 manual wheel chairs, 3 specialty wheelchairs, 18 electric wheel chairs, as well as dozens of walkers, canes, and crutches.
- Treatment of Equino Varo (Club Foot). In the last 12 month period, 120 patients have been seen by Dr. David Velazquez, pediatric and trauma orthopedic specialist, for evaluation of equino varo and other orthopedic problems
- Alliance with Shriners Hospital for Children: For those children under the age of 18 with significant and severe medical problems, such as traumatic amputation of limbs, congenital malformation of hip and spine or spina bifida, we offer screening and follow up in Mexico City. We take 4-7 children and one parent for treatment at Shriners every 3-4 months, and the results are astounding!
The Lupita Project subscribes to the philosophy embodied in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” The Lupita Project slogan is “Juntos Podemos,” or “Together we can.” Without the DIF of Huatulco, our volunteers, the staff of Shriners Hospital, our vendors and the generous donations of our sponsors, we could not succeed.
You Can Help:
If you are a doctor, therapist, communications specialist, web designer or volunteer and want to make your time in Huatulco a little more fulfilling, we have space for you!
If you have a wheel chair, walker, cane, crutch or prosthetic limb gathering dust in your garage, bring it down on your next trip. We can help with advice in dealing with your airline.
If you want to donate funds to help us expand our services, you can make a check payable to the International Mobility Association (our U.S. 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization), or deposit directly to our segregated account with the DIF Municipal de Huatulco: Bank BBVA Bancomer, account number 0110226831.
For more information contact us:
- Lic. Maria del Carmen Galván Rivera
Director of Operations and Therapies
Tel: 958 109 7222
- Lic. Gerardo Angel Luna
Director of Social Services
Tel: 959 128 2127
- Dr. Andrew Glassman
Tel: U.S. 1 310 376 5284