Exceptional, uplifting news that brings joy to humankind. Kudos to Claudia Tolay, I welcome her to The Hall of Bolivian Fame.
Alicia Bress reports for El Deber, Revista Extra:
The angel of Rosalia
Claudia Tolay, Tarija’s entrepreneur who gives hope to children like Rosalia Apaza, that do not have resources to be saved.
On May 21, 2013 the life of Rosalía Apaza (5) changed when she was attacked by a dog Rottweiler that destroyed her scalp, part of her face and mashed her arms and legs, leaving her in a state of coma and with little chance of living. On the same day also took a turn the life of Claudia Tolay, Tarija’s entrepreneur based in the United States, married to physician Joseph Currier, which decided to move and seek help to bring Rosalia to Boston and restore lost hope, after seeing photos of the girl on Facebook.
“I am mother and when I saw ‘Pochita’,- as we call her out of love – wrenching photos, and the terrible conditions in which she was, I felt an internal tear and I started to cry,” tells Claudia, who along with her husband, who works in the Boston Childrens Hospital, arrived in the country to take Rosalia in their private airplane on June 21 last year and since then, they are her godfathers.
To see the recovery of Rosalia, and then of Carlitos Gutiérrez, another child from Bolivia who suffered an accident and was brought to Boston for treatment, the idea of creating the Healthy and Happy Kids Organization was taking shape and from December 31, 2013 are legally established and able to help 80 Bolivian children per year. For their laudable work, Erbol chose her the character of the year 2013.
Claudia Tolay was born in Tarija and is the eldest of four children. Her paternal grandmother sold in the mercado central of Tarija, while her grandfather, with whom she grew up, was a farmer and had a mill to which came many humble people from the field, walking days and days with their donkeys laden with corn, wheat, or stale bread.
“Since I was in contact with the reality of these people, knowing their needs and looking at my grandfather as always provided them aid and also love. Today I am what I am, thanks to that little girl that gave me unconditional love and opportunities. I know that if I give the children the same thing I’ve got, will be great human beings and shall ensure on behalf of those in need. A guy who receives unconditional love; will give back”, remarks.
She studied elementary school in the public school María Laura Justiniano and high school at the colegio San Bernardo de Tarija. In 1996 she went to Santiago de Chile to continue her university studies, then to Spain and three years living in the United States. She is an entrepreneur and works realizing various projects involving the protection of the sea, the coasts and land, applying ecological sustainability systems for one or more communities.
“We focus on preserving the most beautiful places on the planet and make these true nature sanctuaries to avoid destruction by the hand of man. There are few places in the world where its inhabitants altogether care for the land that feeds them and teach children to care for and respect it. These are the places where we invest and work, because nature conservation is the best business that exists for us and a whole community,”says Tolay.
How is Rosalia?
After eight months of the accident, Rosalia is fine. She has recovered 50% of her scalp and all wounds on her body have healed, but as a result of attack dogs and the force applied on her head, suffers severe brain damage that causes epilepsy and disorders in her personality. These sequels are controlled with medication, which usually is taken twice a day. But all in all, Pochita is a happy girl, mischievous and very sure of herself.
Are there more surgeries missing?
February 13, 2014 is scheduled the first of the last stage of plastic surgeries.
This last stage, which is aesthetic, but also very important for the future of my goddaughter, lasts from seven to nine months to complete.
We hope that she can recover between 95 and 100% of her scalp. For every woman, it is vital to look good with oneself and hair plays an important role. As a mother, and now the godmother of Pochita, I want to feel happy, safe and be accepted by all, so it is important this stage of recovery. Still do not know when she will be released because the treatment is long, and even less when will she return to Bolivia.
Where are Rosalia and her dad staying?
Since arrival, Rosalia and her father, Agustín Apaza, they live with us, they are a part of my family.
In December, you took also Carlitos? How is he?
Carlos Daniel Gutiérrez (10) and his father, Juan Carlos, are from Oruro. They arrived on December 1 and last week had already returned to Oruro. He suffered a traffic accident with serious consequences in her right and left hand and thank God he is now recovered.
How do you feel for having returned a better life expectancy to Rosalie and Carlitos?
I am very happy to see them happy, smiling, being what they are, children and every day more healthy, confident and highly motivated to continue. They are true champions who beat death and are not victims. They celebrate their lives like no one and we with them.
Many children already have returned hope?
God opened my road to help 11 children of different South American countries.
What are your short, medium and long term projects?
Live the present and today as today. However, the medium term objective is that our own doctors to take care of and ensure the health of children in Bolivia. This should be a goal of the Bolivian people. All that we are parents, future parents and those who love children, together we need to ensure that our children can be treated in our country and not that need to emigrate to seek a medical solution. God wants that families and physicians never have to resign themselves to losing a child’s life only by medical or economic resources. It is time to be proactive and not just reactive. I do this because I know that together we can do it.
We know that you do not like sharing your personal life, but tell us something of your history…
I went out of the country 18 years ago, but less than three that I moved to Boston with my family by my company’s expansion into the American market. I lived 13 years in Europe, specifically in Barcelona, and before I was four years in Santiago de Chile.
Tell us about some of your family…
God blessed my life to share it with my best friend, who is my husband, Joseph Currier, and gave us four wonderful sons and a dog: Ariadne Yael (13), Borja Andreas (10), Sacha Athena (2), Olympia victory (1) and Chester, our puppy or ‘eldest’, 14-year-old.
How is your life?
Live in Boston for eight months a year and the other four on an island nature reserve called Chappaquiddick. Thank God I have the life of my dreams. Live in a simple manner, where less is more, and surrounded by nature on the outskirts of the city. I feel happy and in connection with everything around me. That is, my day requires much discipline, organization and approach my work, the Organization and my family, but am lucky to have great professionals and excellent team that help me in everything and together we make possible the impossible.