In June 2003 we heard for the First time about an orphanage for handicapped children in Klenica – Poland. It was a care center for little children with severe multiple handicap who were abondonned by their elder and lived there in Klenica (close to Zielona Gora) under the care of the sisters of Maria Immaculata. During the European congress of occupational therapy (OT) in Athens 2004, Luc Vercruysse presented this project to the border of Occupational Therapy without Borders and got the permission to run a project in that orphanage. From 2005 OT students and nurse students from Hogeschool Universiteit Brussel (HUB) went to Klenica and worked there for 3 weeks. Mieke lembrechts , teacher at the BuSO school in Terbank Heverlee (a school for special education), was also involved from the very beginning. She was responsible for doing logistical activities in the institute as a way of vocational training for her mental retarded pupils.
Our mission was : “working against occupational injustice and deprivation” .
There was a big lack of therapy and therapists in Klenica because of several reasons. We tried to tackle this problem by sending students (OT) to do practice over there and in that way fill up that lack of therapists and therapy. Because of the European criteria for nursing homes (Poland entered the EU) the institute in Klenica had to close. The children moved to another similar institute also managed by the sisters of Maria Immaculata. From that moment we could send our students and volunteers to that institute in Katy Wroclawski – Jaszkotle – Poland. (close to Wroclaw) Not only students from HUB Brussels, but also students from other European universities could be send to Jaszkotle.
During a conference in Zaragoza-Spain, Luc Vercruysse talked to Cristina de Diego and Patricia Jovellar (OT’s and studying PT on that moment) and informed them about the project. Both were very enthousiastic about it and decided to go to Jaskotle together with some other Spanish students for doing some volunteer work.
During this conference we decided to establish an association under the name of TAPAS (acronym for Therapy for All patients in All Situations).
We wanted to find other similar places for sending students and volunteers to fulfill our mission. With the help of Reninka De koker , OT in Esteli – Nicaragua, we could find some interesting projects. Patricia Jovellar also found a place in Claypole – Argentina , and Cristina de Diego was doing volunteer work in Calcuta – India in an institute of “Lights of hope”. Besides sending students and volunteers to the projects we also give courses, workshops in conferences and national and international congresses. This gives us the opportunity to find more enthousiastic people to send to our projects. In 2011 TAPAS became an official association with administrative seat in Zaragoza-Aragon-Spain. Some facts and figures:
Our projects until 2012:
- Jan Pawla II institute, Jaszkotle- Poland
- El Cotolengo de Don Orion, Claypole, Argentina
- Lights of Hope, Calcuta- India
- Centro Juvenil Los pipitos, Esteli – Nicaragua
- Fundación pedagógica Cristal, Esteli – Nicaragua
We sended already students in OT and PT from different universities:
- HUB (Brussels – Belgium)
- University of Reus (Catalunya – Spain)
- Unizar (Zaragoza – Spain)
- Escuala Universitatia Creu Roja (Terassa – Spain)
- TUAS (turku – Finland)
- CVU Vest (Esbjerg – Denmark)
From the beginning till now (2012) we published several articles in local and professional journals. We als did different interviews for radio and television. TAPAS conferences were already organized : in Zaragoza, Brussels and Esteli. Already more than 100 students and volunteers were giving therapy in one of our projects. Two Belgian primary schools are organizing sponsor activities for our association. Untill 2012 we reported our activities and TAPAS events and initiatives on a weblog: www.tapas.whereareyou.net From now on we decided to construct a new website: www.therapy-tapas.org, and opened an account for sponsorship: IBAN ES22 2054 0344 23 9163417275