Since last October, I have been working at TOLA, an occupational center for people with mental as well as physical disabilities. In the center, the users can partake in quite a lot of activities, it offers different services ranging from gardening work, craft classes, sport activities, individual learning, and various other workshops. Besides that, one of Tola’s bigger objectives is it, to help the users/usuarios at being as independent as possible, which means making their own money. The “monitoras” support the users who want to get a job at applying for them, getting the right formation/schooling for it, coming with them to interviews and visit them frequently at their workplaces.
Since it is my first experience ever working with disabled people, I have been and still am learning quite a lot. While I’m just being a helping hand and don’t do the group leading like the monitoras do, I quickly realized how hard it is do work in an occupational center. You have to be nice, but simultaneously strict too, organize everything on your own, and make everyone content all at the same time. You truly need to be extremely patient, and I gained so much respect for all social workers.
Still, it naturally has his his pros’ too. It’s amazing to work on something together and then see the process and the following proudness of everyone. For example, last week, I got to see one of the usuarios (who was one of the the first ones that I met in my first week at tola) at their new workplace, for which he made a big and long effort to work there. It was really a joyful and proud moment for everyone.
While there are many ups and downs there, working at this occupational center really taught me a lot and I’m thankful for having the opportunity to get such a deep insight of this work field.