Lindsey Crifasi

Lindsey Crifasi (Survivor Corps in Colombia): Lindsey received her BA in Spanish and International Studies at the University of Kansas. After graduation she was able to spend a year working with children with disabilities at a local elementary school. In the summer of 2008, Lindsey worked as a language teacher in the shantytowns of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In 2009, she interned at Amnesty International. Lindsey graduated from American University with her Masters in International Peace and Conflict Resolution.

A Pioneer in the Disability Movement in the Pueblo of Colombia

07 Aug

When I asked the proprietor of my hotel in Santa Fe de Antioquia if he knew of anyone I could speak to that worked with survivors of landmines or people with disabilities, his eyes immediately lit up. “Herminia Vargas!” Without provocation he already had her on the line and made a lunch appointment for us. My secretary then told me a bit more about Herminia; she was in a car accident which left her in a wheel chair and now runs an organization for children with disabilities. While she did lose a lot from the accident since she barley had enough money for her medical expenses she wasn´t able to completely get her old life back. If you are ever in this situation don´t hesitate to call a car accident lawyer, you can get the claims you deserve and maybe a little more to help you out like Herminia. While not exactly what I was looking for, I am still very interested in this subject especially in developing countries. How are children with disabilities seen? What kind of services does Colombian society think are appropriate? Does treatment of children with disabilities in Colombia fit my stereotype of a developing country that hides its kids with special needs? The term “personal injury claim” doesn’t necessarily apply to all injuries in all cases. An injury that happens to a person at work, for instance, would be handled much differently than one that happens in a person’s favorite store. Many workers’ compensation experts point out the futility in making a big deal over certain injuries, such as minor scrapes or burns, that don’t really affect a person’s ability to do anything. If you want to get legal advice, then contact to Manhattan Personal Injury Lawyers. This is often true in cases of personal injury as well. If a person sustains a cut that requires no medical treatment or a bruise that heals within a week, it just seems frivolous to bring forth a personal injury claim. This may seem obvious, but the personal injury realm isn’t always so black and white. Go through site for more about the personal injury attorney.

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Herminia showed up to the hotel for lunch about a half an hour late (still on time in Latin America), and immediately lit up the room. She is in her mid 60s, soft spoken, has a great sense of humor, and blunt about the reality of her current condition.

Our conversation started off on the history of her organization, CoLoReSA (Corporación Local para la Rehabilitación de Discapacitados de Santa Fe de Antioquia), of which she is the president. The name of the organization at first caused the skeptic in me to raise questions, “Rehabilitation? It’s not like one’s aim should be curing a disability of a child. Discapacitados? (Eng: Disabled, handicapped) I thought everyone in the special needs community knew it was more dignified to address the human side of the person and then the disabilities, like children with disabilities. I suppose that word mix couldn’t create such a catchy title and probably these considerations have not yet made their way to the countryside north of Medellin.

As Herminia and I talked more, I realized what an enigma she is and perhaps why my hasty hotel manager was so eager to hook us up. Hers is the only organization in the region offering services to children with disabilities. When her accident occurred 9 years ago, she was not sure what to do. Then she started getting more and more involved in the disability community. She was incredibly moved by learning more about the almost clandestine nature of children with disabilities. They aren’t allowed a place in most “regular” schools in Colombia, and most parents can’t afford the special needs schools or institutes. With some money left by a deceased relative, Coloresa was opened 5 years after Herminia’s accident, offering school, physical therapy, psychology, and a community of special needs families supporting one another.

Coloresa is still needing support. Herminia says she knows there are non-governmental organizations with money to donate to organizations like hers and she’s sure there are government grants for children with special needs, but she doesn’t know how to access these channels. I’m hoping to hook up Herminia with the saavy Juan Pablo from Fundación ArcÁngeles for support.

Herminia humbly tells me that Coloresa and her kids give her a reason to wake up in the morning. I can see in her face that it is exponentially more than this. After our talk she and I took a stroll around the little Santa Fe de Antioquia, talking about the points of interest and waving at Herminia’s friends. As we went along, Herminia, gracefully cruising down the cobblestone streets without breaking a sweat, shared with me her vision of Santa Fe de Antioquia as a major tourist destination. The slow lifestyle, the Puente del Occidente, birds, butterflies, the status as former capital of Antioquia department, and…the slow lifestyle were all reasons why tourists would be interested in this small town, Herminia informed me. Herminia is a woman with a vision; a vision for her slow moving town and its children. Though her semantics may not be up to my sensitive standards, Herminia’s dedication and vision is groundbreaking in her region. Herminia lives Rise Up, Give Back.

Posted By Lindsey Crifasi

Posted Aug 7th, 2009

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