Bolivia: New national federation for people with mental disabilities

In 2005, we started in RSMH-Roslagen (National Association for Social and Mental Health) a project to stimulate the formation of social work cooperatives in Bolivia. The project received support from MyRight. Of course we wanted to work with the Bolivian interest group for people with mental disabilities, but it turned out that there was none!

People with mental disabilities "did not exist"

When we turned to the Government to get statistics on people with mental illness, we received no information. For the simple reason that that group did not "exist" in society. People were hidden and forgotten with a lot of guilt and shame in the families.

It became important for us to work to try to initiate an interest organization. This led to Swedish Parasoll, which is owned by RSMH and the Schizophrenia Association and which conducts personal advocacy activities for people with mental disabilities, took over the issue and applied for a new project at MyRight.

The first building block of a national organization

Four years ago, the interest group Parasoll-Bolivia was formed. It was also a major event and the first building block of a national organization. It was a privilege to be part of the great joy that both users and relatives felt when they met others in the same situation. There were many tears of joy and relief.

Parasol Bolivia has continued to develop and today has a broad business with different self-help groups and political influence in different ways. The government has recognized mental disability as a separate category of disability. Now you are here! But ignorance is enormous and breeds prejudice and fear. Therefore, the organization has managed to get broadcast time on a popular radio channel, where they inform every week about what mental illness can be.

More associations have now been formed in other places in the country for people with mental illness. When we have come this far, we were able to take the initiative to form a federation with the help of MyRight and the Danish aid organization ADD.

With a national federation, new opportunities are created

Parasoll-Bolivia has an obvious and central role in the federation, which can be seen in the fact that Parasoll's chairman is now also chairman of the entire federation. The office will be at Parasoll in Cochabamba, which is the third largest city in Bolivia.

It is natural for RSMH-Roslagen and Parasoll in Sweden to support the new national federation with support from MyRight. Thanks to the fact that there is now a national organization, it is also possible to apply for support from the government. ADD can also support.

The good spiral is underway. Help is needed for help with self-help. The needs are enormous, but the opportunities are also great.

Text and image: Bosse Blideman and Eva Laurelii from RSMH-Roslagen

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