Saturday, December 17, 2011

claudia carrizales

How do you measure the impact that education has on someone's life? And how do you determine the impact of that person's life and work on the lives of other people?

Though I'm unable to quantify it, the transformative power of education is evident in the hundreds of stories I hear from UAC-CP graduates who are living out the mission of the College. Last week, for example, I met with UAC-CP Nursing graduate Claudia Carrizales and listened to her talk about her work with SEDES (Bolivia's health service program). Education, I quickly found myself thinking, is what allowed Claudia to make something of her life--and improve the livelihood of literally thousands of people in Bolivia.

With her degree in Nursing, Claudia Carrizales is helping thousands of people in Bolivia to be disease-free.

Just four years after defending her thesis and graduating from the College, Claudia now manages a vaccination program financed by the Bolivian Ministry of Health (known by the spanish acronym PAI), which is responsible for the free distribution of vaccines. Specifically, Claudia is charged with managing the vaccination program for the entire population living in El Alto--approximately one million people (many who have migrated to the city from the countryside) in an area perched on the high plain just above La Paz, Bolivia's capital city.

"My job," Claudia explained to me one day a couple weeks ago when I was finally able to track her down, "is to help prevent diseases that, in some cases, can cause very severe health care problems or even death." Her team of health professionals that she supervises, which is based at 74 health posts throughout El Alto, both administer vaccines and educate people about the importance of vaccines.

"One of our goals for this year," Claudia offered as an example, "is to vaccinate 86,000 children between the ages of 1 and 6-years-old." She said that is actually about 80-85% of the child population. It's difficult, she said, to track down all the children of people who are very mobile (many travel often for work). There are also some parents who are scared of vaccines and prefer to treat illness and disease once it strikes by seeking treatment from traditional medical doctors. Claudia said her job is to teach people about prevention, to help people make the best decisions regarding their health care and that of their children. (The Bolivian government has also started offering cash bonus incentives for parents who vaccinate their children--a program that Claudia has mixed feelings about.)

"I'm proud that I am able to put into practice the things that I learned from the College--in my work and my personal life," Claudia told me. She pointed specifically to her practical experience during her second year of studies at the UAC-CP when she was part of the public health team--serving the community of Trinidad Pampa, located just over the ridge (1 hour walk) from Carmen Pampa.

Her work and responsibilities require a high level of dedication and commitment, Claudia admitted. And this is without mention of her additional roles as mother and student--Claudia is the mother of two children and she is completing her master's degree in health care administration. She credits her husband, UAC-CP Agronomy graduate Victor Hugo, for his support.

Originally from the town of Apolo--a rural, cowboy-type community located more than 15 hours from La Paz by bus--Claudia and her two older siblings (also UAC-CP graduates) were orphaned at a young age and moved to Carmen Pampa to attend the boarding high school. After graduation from high school, a penniless Claudia was offered a scholarship to study at the College--an opportunity that she gratefully accepted.

"If I hadn't had the opportunity to study in Carmen Pampa?" she pondered the question before she answered. "I have no idea how my life would have turned out. But I do know that the College has been a blessing in my life and thanks to the UAC-CP I am where I am--a registered nurse, helping to serve my people. I will always be grateful to the people who dedicated themselves to helping me."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Claudia, You are a modern-day miracle, the result of many people's (including your own)cooperating with God's grace. We wish you a rewarding carrier here and in the world to come. Matt 25.