For over 15 years, a Bolivian Rotary Club provided prosthesis to low-income Bolivians through a government-operated clinic one month each year. Thanks to American philanthropist and engineer, Matt Pepe, that program has expanded to be a stand-alone clinic open all year long providing higher quality artificial limbs for a larger number of needy patients.
Matt, a software engineer with a B.S. in electrical engineering, knew nothing about this work. Matt’s endeavors stemmed from pure will, determination and most of all, a passionate desire to assist others less fortunate than he is.
Matt first started as a volunteer for a government-operated hospital for nine months and then with the Rotary Club for another 15 months. Matt quickly recognized that these incapacitated Bolivian amputees lacked any advocacy. His volunteer work evolved into multiple roles —architect, inventor, builder, buyer, researcher, plumber, electrician, fund raiser, web master, form-generator, process-creator and chief “grunt” for the entire project to create a new prosthesis clinic. To make this all a reality, Matt worked 10, 12, and sometimes even 14 hours per day for six to seven days a week during those two years that he lived in Bolivia.
Through a critical partnership with LIMBS International, the clinic received complimentary training in the production, fitting and rehabilitation of their polycentric knee design. In short, Matt created an entirely new prosthesis clinic—quite a heroic deed for someone who was not an amputee. Matt’s passion is to help desperate amputees that have been forgotten by society and who are ashamed of their handicaps.
We a are a proud partner and contributor to Matt’s organization,“Centro de Miembros Artificiales.” To date, this courageous non-profit has helped around 150 amputees over the past three years to walk again. Our hope is to help many, many more amputees in the years to come.
Bolivian volunteers from “Centro de Miembros Artificiales” created by Matthew Pepe
Matthew Pepe ( far left), Elizabeth Bress ( Sending out an SOS Co-Founder) and Damien Nemire-Pepe