Everyone who has ever participated in our cultural immersion eco-tours has visited Los Pipitos San Ramón, and for many, it is the defining experience of their stay in Nicaragua. Since 1992, this center for children with disabilities has been transforming the lives of not only the children that they work with, but also their families and communities. We have been supporting Los Pipitos since 2005, but we never get tired of telling their story.
Los Pipitos San Ramón was founded by Lilian Selva, a San Ramón local who realized that there were no therapy options for her granddaughter with espina bifida. She collaborated with the national network “Los Pipitos” to get a piece of land donated and to build a rudimentary building, and she has run the center as a volunteer ever since.
Over the years, Los Pipitos San Ramón has helped countless children with physical, intellectual, and emotional disabilities. There are too many stories to tell, but one that stands out is that of Kenia, who came to the center at 8 years old, when her family moved to San Ramón. The physical therapist immediately noted that she need surgery, so the team coordinated with the regional public hospital to get her the care she needed and covered her family’s travel expenses. Afterward, Kenia came weekly to Los Pipitos San Ramón to receive physical therapy, and a long-time volunteer and friend of the center, Rebecca Grant, got her a bicycle, which was an important part of her therapy. Kenia graduated this year from high school, and plans to studying Banking at a local university. She said that because of the support of Los Pipitos San Ramón, she is where she is today.
Since the beginning, Los Pipitos San Ramón has been more than just a center for physical therapy and early intervention education. The center has also been an integral part of changing the societal perception of people with disabilities. Traditionally, people in rural communities have viewed disability as a curse or a punishment from God and would hide their loved ones away. From day one, Los Pipitos San Ramón has involved parents (mostly mothers) in the therapy process. Involving mothers in their children’s development transforms their way of thinking about disability, which they then take home to their families and communities. Nowadays, people with disabilities experience much more acceptance in San Ramón.
In the wake of Covid-19, Los Pipitos San Ramón has had to get creative. Mothers and children are staying home to avoid contagion, so the team has started doing consultations by phone and making videos of exercises the children can do at home, with things they find around the house. Of course, this type of intervention is only available to those families that have access to a smart phone, money to put minutes on their phone, and cell phone reception in their community. The team is currently working on a plan to reach those families that don’t have this kind of access.
Though the center bears the name “Los Pipitos,” and though the national organization raises millions every year through their annual telethon, the San Ramón center receives no funds from the national organization. They receive some in-kind donations from other organizations, but the reason Los Pipitos San Ramón has managed to keep its doors open all these years is through the financial support that they receive through SCSRN. If you’d like to support the amazing miracles that Los Pipitos performs every day, please contact us!