May 9, 2023

Getting to know La Paz


La Paz - after a 20-hour flight, Elisabeth Kern steps out of the plane. Even the approach was breathtaking: a city nestled in the mountains! The second impression is also breathtaking, in the truest sense of the word, as the air in the Bolivian metropolis is quite thin due to its location at an altitude of 3,500 meters.

This is the first visit to the project country Bolivia for the new Managing Director of Artemed Stiftung . She is looking forward to getting to know her local colleagues, learning about their work and, of course, discussing future projects and ideas.

On the very first day, she got to know the F.A.M.I.A. team, which provides care for street children, prisons and schools as street doctors with three mobile ambulances in La Paz. Ms. Kern was also able to visit one of the women's prisons with a delegation and see the work there for herself: She was very impressed by the visit. She was particularly touched by the gratitude of the prison inmates, who presented the team with hand-knitted scarves and homemade cakes.

Over the course of the week, she held several discussions with the F.A.M.I.A. team so that some important things could be set in motion. For example, the financing of ultrasound courses for the team and the ordering of important equipment were discussed. Intensive discussions with Dr. Yael Cazon (medical director of the Arco Iris hospital in La Paz) led to procedures and the provision of medication being arranged.

A highlight at the end of the visit was the meeting with Father Josef Neuenhofer, the initiator of the Street Doctors. Ms. Kern was fascinated by his commitment to the poorest of the poor and especially to children, which he has never given up despite his advanced age. "If only a few more people in this world thought like that..." she enthuses.

Ms. Kern returns from her trip with many impressions and positive experiences and is full of confidence and motivation for the many challenges, big and small, that need to be overcome in La Paz. After seeing the many small and large patients who often came to the outpatient clinic consumed by pain, with apathetic, hopeless eyes and then, after a short time, were able to smile again thanks to the treatment of the Street Doctors, she knows that these challenges must be overcome. However, the financial basis is absolutely essential for the Street Doctors to be able to continue their work. As the Bolivian state does not provide any subsidies, everything depends on donations to the foundation.

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