Personal interview with Felipe, a volunteer of Solidaridad sin Limites. Don’t miss it!

Thank you very much for keep supporting the foundation Solidaridad sin Limites from Colombia!
As a return to your valuable support, we would like to share with you this month’s Newsletter from the program, that we hope you’d enjoy!

This month, Anisia from Airfunding had an interview with Felipe, a volunteer of Solidaridad sin Limites Foundation from Colombia, and we’ve had the chance to know a little more about him, his motivations and his dreams. Please keep reading!
Interview with Felipe Montoya, volunteer from Solidaridad Sin Limites

Anisia: Hi Felipe! Thank you for participating in this interview! I would like to ask you some questions, so the supporters get a chance to know more about Solidaridad Sin Limites and its volunteers. To start, can you please tell us a little about yourself?
Felipe Montoya: Hi! My name is Felipe Montoya and I am a physiotherapist. I am 28 years old and I am the owner of a physical rehabilitation clinic and I have been a volunteer at Solidaridad Sin Limites for 6 years.
Anisia: Felipe, can you explain to the supporters the work of a physiotherapist?
Felipe Montoya: We are specialists in human body movement. We treat skeletal deficiencies, bone and muscle injuries derived from work, posture, sport … etc. We are the people in charge of giving treatment to get back the normal movement of the body.

Felipe with a kid from a community
Anisia: What motivated you to be a volunteer in Solidaridad Sin Limites?
Felipe Montoya: I joined Solidaridad Sin Limites 6 years ago because they required personnel to accompany one of the missions in the region of Guaviare and the university and Solidaridad Sin Limites were initiating an agreement, so they decided to send me to make an exploratory visit, to check if it was worth it and to continue sending personnel.
In this visit, I realized that there are medical specialties like pediatrics, psychology, or physiotherapy that are known in large cities, but they do not exist in remote areas because people do not have access to health services. This community was in the jungle, so they did not have the possibility to access many specialties such as pediatrics. In that first experience, I realized that there were many shortcomings and needs in these remote regions.
The reason for this is because there is an inequity of resources and resources do not arrive as they should to remote areas. Wealth and resources are usually where there is money, and this is mainly in the big cities. However, there is also poverty in the big cities and you can also find people who have nothing but have easier access to healthcare due to they live in a city. Extreme poverty is mostly in remote areas.
After this experience, I saw the impact they made so I decided to get involved. I talked to them and I said that I wanted to participate more actively. And since then I have been a volunteer for 6 years!
Anisia: Which characteristic should have a volunteer of Solidaridad sin Limites?
Felipe Montoya: I think they should be empathetic people, people with a sense of fairness. It must be a person who wants justice, equality and who feels love for what they do and passion to help others. A person that is not selfish but that loves to serve other people.

Felipe in a field trip
Anisia: How many times have you joined the missions in this 6 years?
Felipe Montoya: I have been more than 7 or 8 times. In the last year, we didn’t have the opportunity to have many because of Covid, but we hope to go again as soon as possible.
Anisia: What are the preparations for the mission?
Felipe Montoya: Preparations begin many weeks before to collect transportation, food, supplies … Raffles and sales are made to collect money. Normally 15 people travel, so we develop strategies to collect the money. Some days before the trip, we all meet at the headquarters to organize the medicines, the clothes, toys, food … Normally we organize it to facilitate the logistics. Then we organize all the specialties in groups and we talk together to do a review of the type of community, what language they speak what culture they may have.
On the day of the trip we leave at dawn, we bring food for the trip, and normally the places are approximately from 18 up to 25 hours of journey. For example, 15 hours by bus, 5 hours by boat, two hours walking … etc.
What we do when we arrive at the place is to contact the community where we go. They usually have a place for us which can be a school or a community place. Sometimes they give us some tents and we basically provide the health service there. And sometimes we improvise something.
On the day of the medical attention we organize everything very quickly, we begin to do a review of the logistics, and we speak with the community leaders. Indigenous families usually have 12 or 15 members. The father, the mother and up to 10 kids! We give them record numbers to go through all services (medical, legal support, abuse prevention)
We do not only give health care but we also give clothing, food, and we make sure that each person has attention and that they understand what we say, so we also have volunteers to accompany them and to translate if needed.

Felipe with some children of the community and another volunteers in a field trip
Anisia: How do you get all the medicines and resources?
Felipe Montoya: Medicines come from donations. The medicines are collected from people who have them at home and that happens with many people who donate medicines. Also on some occasions, we have received support from specific medications or products such as milk for children’s growth. We are always looking for strategies on how to get medicines. We are looking for antidiarrheals, antiparasitics …etc. It is very important to bring medicines because it would be useless to go without medications. We need to have those medicines because it doesn’t have sense to give a diagnosis and not provide treatment.
Anisia: How are communities selected?
Felipe Montoya: There are many communities in need. Colombia is a country with a lot of cultural diversity, so all the communities are different. The communities usually contact the foundation and those with the greatest need are always prioritized.

Felipe with another volunteers in a field trip
Anisia: Did you face any challenging situation or any difficulties?
Felipe Montoya: I have faced many difficulties. Mainly in fundraising. It has happened before that no funds are raised and they have to go to the missions half of the people. We also have had difficulties with expired medications. Once they made a very large donation of expired medications and we were counting on them but in the end, we couldn’t use them.
We are also always aware that they are areas with drug trafficking, and are not safe but our desire to serve is greater than fear. All the volunteers we go there being aware of that and being responsible for our decision.

Anisia: And how do you face those difficulties? How do you choose which members and specialties should travel?

Felipe Montoya: Generally, we prioritize the general practitioners, pediatricians, nutritionists. Also, psychologists and dentistry are always prioritized.
But if you ask me, we should always travel with the whole team. There are many injuries in the eyes, skin, respiratory diseases. Especially in the desert where there is a lot of sand inhalation and we need all kinds of specialists.

Anisia: What happens after the first visit to those communities?
Felipe Montoya: The main objective of Solidaridad Sin Limites is not to have a single visit, but that it does a follow-up in time. For example, from physiotherapy what we do is deliver a brochure in which the person has certain recommendations and from psychology, it is to make a diagnosis and later talk with the leaders and look for an action plan. It all depends on the region because they are indigenous communities with very different cultural roots.
Anisia: Thank you for sharing all this information! Is there anything you would like to share with us?
Felipe Montoya: It fills me with satisfaction and pride to be able to help in a country like Colombia with so many needs, not just complaining about the government and government decisions and actions. As a health professional, I can make a change by doing actions to help people in need and that is why I am a member of Solidaridad Sin Limites. I would like to invite people that read this to make an impact with people in need. Together, we can all make a change.

Felipe with another volunteers and children from the communities

Arepas Recipe
For this month’s newsletter, we would like to share the recipe of the Arepas, a very famous dish from Latinamerica, especially in Colombia and Venezuela. If you have never tried this delicious recipe, you should try it once you finish reading this recipe!
・1 cup warm water
・1 cup pre-cooked white cornmeal
・1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
・1 divspoon butter
・½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
cooking spray
・Step 1
Mix water, cornmeal, mozzarella cheese, butter, and salt together in a large bowl. Knead until mixed well and the dough has a soft consistency. Form balls the size of a medium orange and place them between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Flatten with a rolling pin to your desired thickness.
・Step 2
Cut the dough into circles using a cereal bowl or drinking glass, lip-down, through the plastic wrap. Remove the plastic wrap and remove excess dough.・Step 3
Coat a griddle with cooking spray and heat to medium-high. Add arepas and grill until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Serve immediately.

Remember that you can directly communicate with members of Solidaridad sin Limites in the Supporters Community in Facebook. Don’t forget to join the community if you haven’t done it yet, by clicking on the following link!