By: Ana-Maria Gutierrez
Peer support programs are the heart of the Amputee Coalition’s mission. These programs aim to ensure that no one faces limb loss alone. Support from an experienced, well-trained peer, who has lived through similar experiences, can offer encouragement and invaluable information to new amputees. These personal connections can help people on their recovery journey and ultimately help them live the life they most want.
As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage month, we highlight Luis Ovando, one of our long-time Certified Peer Visitors. Luis proudly hosted the first-ever Spanish-speaking roundtable during the 2022 National Conference in August.
The Amputee Connection of Redlands, his local support group, had a booth at Luis’s first Amputee Coalition conference. After connecting with his support group, he immediately understood the necessity of peer support. He knew that he could make a difference in the Spanish-speaking community. He takes great pride in becoming the first bilingual certified peer support visitor at his local support group.
When he began his volunteer work, naturally, he felt slightly insecure in talking to others and building connections with the new amputees he visited. That was a challenge that he quickly overcame. Today he feels it incredibly powerful to be able to help the Spanish-speaking community.
As he continues his work to support the limb loss community, his ultimate goal is to begin the first Spanish-speaking support group. He hopes his passion will inspire other Latinos in the limb loss and limb difference community to see that they can help other Spanish speakers. For Luis, volunteering brings him healing and peace. He says that the opportunity to give back to the community is fantastic.
Over the past 12 years, Luis has been able to impact thousands of new amputees. He recalls one of his most impactful experiences where he was able to help a patient who was in severe emotional distress and wanted to give up on life. After many phone calls between them, Luis is proud to have made a real difference in that person’s life. Since then, they have become best friends and can testify that he has a new prosthesis, has returned to work, and is living a productive life.
Luis has seen first-hand that the Latino community is more vulnerable to health conditions like cardiovascular disease and diabetes, leading to amputation. He encourages others to make an effort to take better care of themselves and their health. “Please find time to exercise, eat well and do what you can to avoid these health complications.”
The most valuable advice he offers to new amputees is to remember that you are not alone. “There is help; there is peer support in great organizations like the Amputee Coalition that can help and offers the resources to live your life to the fullest.”