PROJIMO—or Program of Rehabilitation Organized by Disabled Youth of Western Mexico, now with 14 years of experience—has entered into the multiplying phase. It now puts more time and energy into sharing and disseminating its methods, skills, and philosophy of empowerment with other groups of disabled persons in other parts of Mexico, Latin America, and beyond.

One of the most exciting new ventures of PROJIMO has been a series of short courses and workshops for participants from other parts of Mexico, Central America, and Cuba. Preference has been given to disabled persons, especially disabled leaders from community programs who plan to return home, share their experiences, and teach others what they have learned. Courses and workshops—which average 10 days to 2 weeks long—have focused on the following areas:

  • wheelchair design and construction

  • artificial limb making

  • orthopedic appliances: evaluation of needs, construction, & evaluation

  • special seating for disabled children

  • arch supports

  • physiotherapy

  • massage therapy

  • clinical evaluation and special medical

    needs of disabled persons

  • rehabilitation and peer counselling of

    spinal cord injured persons

  • assessment and handling of children

    with cerebral palsy and spina bifida

  • organization and leadership role of

    parents of disabled children

  • Toy making, carpentry, and income-

    generating activities

  • human rights of disabled persons

  • sexuality and disabled persons

  • independent living

  • integration of disabled kids in schools

These courses are taught by members of the PROJIMO team together with visiting outside specialists, some of them disabled, and many of them outstanding leaders, innovators, or designers in their fields. The response to these ‘mini-courses’ has been enthusiastic, and after they return home, many participants report that they are putting into practice what they learned.

Future courses are planned for this Fall. A new course—or ‘interchange of ideas and experiences’ has been proposed, to explore the organization, management, financing, and dynamics of small grassroots groups. We hope that Kelly Reineke—who is preparing a practical work-book on this topic—will come to help facilitate this interchange.

Innovative Participatory Technology: Experience and a Forthcoming Book

At the end of 1993 PROJIMO completed a 3 year grant, sponsored by the Thrasher Research Fund, on “Innovative Methods and Technologies for Community Based Rehabilitation of Disabled Children and Young People.” 34 of the most useful and important low cost technologies have been described in a final valuative report (available for $5.00 upon request from HeathWrights).

One of the most exciting innovations is a simple home-made device for measuring the pressure against the skin of spinal cord injured persons. Made at very little cost from small balloons and IV tubing filled with colored water, this simple instrument holds the promise of helping save many thousands of lives from pressure sores, the primary cause of death of spinal cord injured persons in the Third World.

David Werner is at present working on a short supplement to Disabled Village Children which will include the most important of the innovative technologies. Unlike other books on “appropriate technology,” however, here the focus will be on the innovative process, not just the product. Indeed, the purpose of the book will be to stress the idea of adapting the technology to the person rather than the person to the technology. Results tend to be much better when the disabled person takes part as an equal partner with the rehab technician in the problem-solving process.

We hope that this new booklet will be in print by early 1995. In the meantime, we plan to include write-ups and designs for some of the most useful innovations in forthcoming issues of Newsletter from the Sierra Madre.