Details of the Organization

This section is adapted from the PROJIMO entry at the Digital Resource Foundation for the Orthotics and Prosthetics Community at

Mission Statement

PROJIMO is a community based rehabilitation and education program run for and by the disabled people of Western Mexico. The program fosters ability, increases opportunity, and enhances community integration of disabled persons by providing assistive devices, job skills, emotional support, and an example of empowerment.

Additional Information & Comments


PROJIMO is a disability treatment center at the vanguard of community-based health and rehabilitation initiatives. Its purpose is to serve a population too indigent to receive physical care at a hospital and too marginalized to receive emotional care from their communities. Its vision is to provide opportunity and understanding to the disabled community, so they can show the world that strength, beauty, and self-actualization come both because of and in spite of their disabilities. PROJIMO is a revolutionary model in grassroots health care because of its ability to engage and empower a marginalized population in its own physical, social, and emotional advancement.


PROJIMO´s two sites provides the full range of services for disabled persons including:

  1. Customized wheelchairs, prosthetics, orthotics, and other assistive devices
  2. Physical rehabilitation
  3. Emotional counsel
  4. Education for the family and the community
  5. Social integration

PROJIMO Rehabilitation Program, located in Coyotitan, focuses on the social and emotional aspect of disability treatment, although it also has a strong prosthetics and wheelchair workshop on site. The workers at the Rehabilitation Program site provides physical and occupational therapy, family counsel, self-help skills, community outreach, and awareness education.

PROJIMO Skills Training and Work Program, located in Duranguito, focuses on economic self-sufficiency for disabled and non-disabled village youth. The main activity of the PROJIMO Skills Training and Work Program is the Children’s Wheelchair Project. The wheelchairs are low-cost, built to endure the tough terrain of the Mexican landscape, affordable, and customized to fit its owner.


PROJIMO also offers a variety of products and services for travelers, volunteers, and interns interested in non-profit work, international development, or disability awareness.

  1. The Intensive Conversational Spanish program is taught by the quadriplegic employees at PROJIMO. Their techniques involve an integrated approach to learning Spanish. From traditional textbooks, to daily conversation practice, to lessons at the beach, the program provides both fun and practicality for all levels and all ages. This unique program exposes students not only to the language, but also to the inspirational stories of the workers at PROJIMO, the breathtaking scenery of the tranquil town, and the cultural immersion of community-based learning. Students are treated to the hospitality of a PROJIMO family during their stay. Enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine, explore the surrounding sites, and make lifelong friends. Contact to set up an unforgettable vacation.
  2. The PROJIMO Woodshop sells handcrafted toys and furniture. These toys are made by Marielos, a paraplegic who has a gift for both whimsy and function. Many of these toys are used in the rehabilitation center, to help train motor skills. Made of all natural wood and individually designed, constructed, and painted by Marielos, these toys are a beautiful gift with a beautiful story.
  3. Volunteers and interns cycle through PROJIMO to offer their expertise and learn from the men and women at PROJIMO. Skills in mechanical engineering, prosthetics, general healthcare, information technology, physical rehabilitation, marketing, and management consulting are just examples of ways to contribute. Perfect for anyone who needs field experience for their skills.

Donations of money and materials are always welcome. PROJIMO`s mission is to ensure that every person has the assistive technology and rehabilitation they need to lead productive and meaningful lives, even those who cannot afford the treatment. Donations help ensure that those who cannot pay even the reduced cost of services can receive treatment. PROJIMO is a perfect organization for community fundraisers and charitable causes. For each $250 you donate, a child will get a wheelchair, especially customized for them. All contributions are tax deductible. Please contact with donations.


The rural area of Sinaloa, Mexico, north of the the city of Mazatlan, (see photos), has been the location of community-based health and rehabilitation initiatives that have broken new ground in the fields of grassroots health and empowerment. Two programs that have had their training and coordination centers in the area—through their innovative methods—have contributed to the evolution of Primary Health Care and Community Based Rehabilitation worldwide. Several books that have grown out of these experiences have become among the most widely used in their fields. Project Piaxtla (a villager-run health program) gave birth to Where There Is No Doctor, a village health care handbook, and also to Helping Health Workers Learn, a handbook on participatory, discovery-based methods of health education. PROJIMO (Program of Rehabilitation Organized by Disabled Youth of Western Mexico)—has inspired the books Disabled Village Children (1987), and Nothing About Us Without Us (1998). Both Project Piaxtla and PROJIMO began in a remote village called Ajoya, in the Sierra Madre mountains. In the 1990s, however, Ajoya began to pass through increasingly difficult times. The economic crisis in Mexico—and the widening gap between rich and poor that resulted from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the “global casino” of speculative investing—has led to a tidal wave of joblessness, falling wages, crime and violence throughout the country. As we have described in Newsletter #29, the village of Ajoya, a strategically-located exchange point for illegal drugs grown in the mountains, has suffered more than its share of robberies, assaults, and kidnappings. As a response to so much crime and violence, many families have fled the village. In the last 4 years the population has dropped from 1000 to 450.

As the result of the violence in Ajoya, in 1999 PROJIMO spit into two sub-programs. The PROJIMO Rehabilitation Program left Ajoya and moved to the safer, more accessible town of Coyotitan on the main west-coast highway (67 km. north of Mazatlan). For two more years the PROJIMO Skills Training and Work Program kept its base in the troubled village of Ajoya. Its goal was to provide socially constructive alternatives to both disabled persons and to village youth who, for lack of job opportunities or hopes of a viable future, were too often lured into drugs, crime and violence. For a time things seemed to be improving, but in the Spring of 2002, this program also moved to a safer location. Now the new PROJIMO Work Program is located in the small, very tranquil village of Duranguito, about 20 km. east of Coyotitan, near the coastal town of Dimas.


Editor’s note: This list of PROJIMO personnel is out of date. It is our intention to expand and update upon this information.

Marcelo Acevedo Roque, one of the founders of PROJIMO, is 41 years old and has polio. Through PROJIMO, he learned to build braces and prosthetic limbs. Today, he is a world class prosthetist with a flair for high quality work despite outdated machinery and scarcity of materials. He is married and has 4 children.

Conchita Lara Rodríguez initially struggled with depression and suicide when she became paraplegic. PROJIMO has helped her turn her life around, not only by giving her purpose and independence, but by giving her the chance to give others that same gift. She is an accountant, a therapist, and a prosthetic assistant for PROJIMO. In addition, she also manages many of PROJIMO´s administrative affairs and offers her home up for home stays. She is married and has two daughters.

Jaime Alcaraz Torres came to PROJIMO with little hope and many bedsores. PROJIMO taught him ways to take care of himself, and constructed a bed-wheelchair, because sitting was painful with his calcified hip bones. He is currently the expert wheelchair builder in the Coyotitan workshop. His joy is making a wheelchair and seeing its get around and feel good about themselves.

Mary Picos Solían became paraplegic after a car accident. She spent two years lying in bed, rejecting her disability, before she found PROJIMO. At PROJIMO, she has found attention, understanding, affection, tenderness, and lifelong friendships. In return, she has stretched out her arms to those who come in with little desire to live. She is the administrative head to PROJIMO. In addition, she provides rehabilitation, gives orthopedic evaluations, provides family counsel, and reaches out to educate the community. She is married and has a daughter.

Inés Ochoa was diagnosed with polio and abandoned by his mother. Joining PROJIMO helped him emotionally accept his ability, find community understanding, and learn to manufacture wheelchairs. He also provides physically therapy and is known for the special attention he gives to those in continuing rehabilitation. He is married and has two children.

Marielos Rosales is paraplegic and did not care for much until she found her joy in PROJIMO`s toyshop. She is a natural with children and found that making the toys helped her to connect with others as well as find purpose for herself. She is also in charge of the wood orthotic devices and furniture.

  • Left PROJIMO in 2007.

Rigoberto Delgado is quadriplegic, but through rehabilitation and determination, he is beginning to regain the ability to use my arms. PROJIMO helped him gain independence in his life and showed him that he has many skills to teach to others. He is now the much beloved Spanish teacher, giving lessons to people from other countries. He is married and has a daughter.

  • Left PROJIMO in 2008

Armando Necares Velásquez was born with polio and was instructed to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life. With a lot of work and the help of his family, however, he has started to walk. His mission at PROJIMO is to help others rehabilitate. He also makes wheelchairs and braces. He is married and has a daughter.

Julio Peña Leiva is quadriplegic, a condition caused by a gunshot wound to the neck. At PROJIMO, he learned to take care of himself and in turn, he has come up with many ingenious ways for other quadriplegics to take care of themselves. He is another beloved Spanish teacher, as well as a mentor to many children with disabilities and a counselor for those with back issues.

Cecilia Rodríguez has polio and came to Prójimo with the expectation for a new brace. She stayed around, however, after being touched by PROJIMO´s message of empowerment and equality of treatment for disabled people. Working at PROJIMO has given her the emotional strength to reconcile with her estranged family. Now, she is married and has two daughters.

David Werner—The PROJIMO Community Based Rehabilitation Program was created with the advocacy of David Werner in 1981, and David continues as an intermittent advisor.


Healthwrights is a non-profit organization committed to advancing the health, basic rights, social equality, and self-determination of disadvantaged persons and groups. They believe that health for all people is only possible in a global society where the guiding principles are sharing, mutual assistance, and respect for cultural and individual differences.

The Barr Foundation, based in Florida, provides free prosthetics to indigent persons in the US and other countries. The Barr Foundation’s “Where Hope Meets Help” donors provides free prosthetic components for these persons through PROJIMO.

The Stichting Liliane Fonds in the Netherlands, helps cover the cost of wheelchairs for children from poor families. Their donations have helped the Children’s Wheelchair Shop achieve self-sufficiency, although funds are still needed for renovating and expanding its new facilities.

Prosthetika [TO INSERT]


Several books that have grown out of the experiences of the workers at PROJIMO. These books have become among the most widely used in their fields. Project Piaxtla, PROJIMO´s precursor, gave birth to Where There Is No Doctor, a village health care handbook, and also to Helping Health Workers Learn, a handbook on participatory, discovery-based methods of health education. Since its inception, PROJIMO has inspired the books Disabled Village Children , and Nothing About Us Without Us.

Organization Details


Note: It is with sadness that we report that Mary Picos passed away in February of 2018.

Mari Picos

Calle Constitución #105

Col. Las Huertas

Coyotitan, Sinaloa


011-52-(6969) 62-01-15 (Phone)


Conchita Lara

Calle Constitución #105

Col. Las Huertas

Coyotitan, Sinaloa


Tel: 011-52-(6969) 62-01-15

Type of Organization


ID: Contact for donation specifics or verification purposes

Type: Equivant to 501C-3 for Mexico

Service Areas

Regions: North America

Countries: Mexico

Specific cities, regions, or groups of people: PROJIMO serves citizens of Western Mexico, particularly in Sinaloa. The organization serves to treat, rehabilitate, employ, and empower disabled persons so they can integrate and contribute to the local community.

Age Group: Adults, Children

Fees Charged: Sometimes

Services Provided

Prosthetic Fitting, Orthotic Fitting, Education, Prosthetic Fabrication, Orthotic Fabrication, Rehabilitation / Training

There is a facility/physical building for patient care at the specified location.

Accomodations for volunteers near or at the specified location.


Financial Assistance

Volunteers: Prosthetists, Orthotists, Technicians, Therapists, Other: Mechanical Engineers, Carpenters, Wheelchair Builders, Computer Technicians

Materials, Components, and Equipment: Disassembled, Equipment, Used, Other: Spanish Textbooks, Teaching Materials, Office Supplies, Computers, Paint and Art Supplies, Rehabilitation Equipment

General Background Information

Historical Information:

Founded by David Werner
Annual average volunteer participation: 35
Total recipients of care to date: Thousands
Annual average recipients of care: Hundreds

This organization has a business/financial relationship with another Non-Profit organization.

Name: HealthWrights, etc.


Financial Information

Organization does NOT provide funding for volunteers.
Volunteer needs to raise individual funds for all expenses.
Currently and Historically, the organization’s funding and contributions have come from:

Business: 70.1%

Government: 16.6%

Individuals: 13.4%

Personal: 0%

Other: 0%

PROJIMO Rehabilitation Program (Coyotitan)

Note: It is with sadness that we report that Mary Picos passed away in February of 2018.

The PROJIMO Rehabilitation Program headed by Mari Picos and Conchita Lara, is now fully settled in its new base in Coyotitan, a more accessible village on the main north-south highway (the free highway, not the toll road) between Mazatlán and Culiacan. The team has built a completely new community rehab center, and several workers have constructed basic but comfortable homes. The new community center in Coyotitan makes PROJIMO’s friendly, low-cost services more easily available to coastal towns and villages.

PROJIMO is a community based rehabilitation and education project run by and for disabled people. Its main objective is work with disabled persons and their families to increase their abilities and opportunities as well as help raise the consciousness of non-disabled persons and school children to include disabled person in the life of the community, and to “look at their strengths, not their weaknesses.” The disabled rehab workers provide physical and occupational therapy, counsel families about how to assist (but not overprotect) their disabled child, teach self help skills, and make a wide variety of adaptive equipment. The self help books that have grown out of PROJIMO can be purchased through the HealthWrights. They are available in many translations.

The PROJIMO Community Based Rehabilitation Program was created with the advocacy of David Werner in 1981, and David continues as an intermittent advisor. The program currently consists of a group of twenty individuals (this number changes with the seasons) who have learned or are learning different skills related to Community Based Rehabilitation. The PROJIMO team receives no money from the Mexican government and operate on a small budget of approximately $30,000 a year. The team also raises money by offering an intensive conversational Spanish course. Donations of equipment and money are deeply appreciated. To know what equipment and supplies are needed, contact Mari Picos or Conchita Lara:, or HealthWrights at:

The Barr Foundation, based in Florida, provides free prosthetics to indigent persons in the US and other countries. After sending a team of prosthetists to visit PROJIMO and examine over 30 amputees, the Barr Foundation’s “Where Hope Meets Help” donors have teamed up with Rotary International to provide free prosthetic components for these persons. Marcelo Acevedo, an expert limb maker at PROJIMO, together with Conchita Lara, have now completed many of these limbs, which will be provided free of cost. PROJIMO and the Barr Foundation hope to have a long-term relationship to help see many more persons get limbs who need but can’t afford them. (Orthotics and Prosthetics) recently published a story on Tony Barr’s work with PROJIMO.

The Shriners Hospital provides surgery for children who need special care. However the project is adamant that visiting doctors and therapists must share abilities and training, not simply provide services when they visit. It is crucial that the people in the rural areas, who are far away from doctors in cities learn to do as much for themselves as they can. It is my hope that this project will be an example to other developing countries on how the people who need to have services and education can collectively work to provide it themselves. The numbers of the disabled children make up ten percent of total students population in the first world. In the developing world particularly in countries in turmoil it can be even larger. If you add to this number, the population of the elderly, disabled veterans, pregnant women, the number of people who could benefit by services generally only thought of as Special Education grows dramatically. In the U.S. can you imagine the Disabled of all categories marching on Washington? Their numbers are second only to women as the most neglected and deprived group of human beings.

Read a letter from a recent student at the Spanish learning program at PROJIMO, who says her experiences in Coyotitan that “changed my outlook and attitudes in profound ways”.

For more information please contact:

Proyecto PROJIMO-Programa de Rehabilitación

Calle Constitución #105, Col. Las Huertas

D/C Coyotitán, San Ignacio, Sinaloa, Mexico

Tel: 011-52-(6969) 62-01-15


Also to contact fomer PROJIMO volunteers, clients, program partners, past present and future join the Google Group Amigos de PROJIMO.

PROJIMO Coyotitan Multimedia

A great way to “meet” some of the current and former members of the program in Coyotitan is to watch this new educational CD Movie (Spanish with English subtitles) produced by PROJIMO, filmed and edited by Peter Bauer:

PROJIMO Skills Training and Work Program (Duranguito)

The PROJIMO Skills Training and Work Program is run by disabled villagers that designs and builds custom-made wheelchairs and other equipment for disabled children. The PROJIMO Work & Wheelchair Workshop Program is now located in the small village of Duranguito, about 20 km. east of Coyotitan, near the coastal town of Dimas (see map).

The project—which was until recently based in the village of Ajoya—has now moved to the small, peaceful village of Duranguito. The team, made up of disabled persons and local village youth, currently works on the porch of the village hall, and is arranging to build a permanent workshop on land donated by the community.

The goal of the PROJIMO Skills Training and Work Program is to achieve ECONOMIC SELF-SUFFICIENCY for disabled and non-disabled village youth. While reaching this goal has taken longer than originally planned, impressive progress has been made.

The main activity of the PROJIMO Skills Training and Work Program is the Children’s Wheelchair Project, which has now essentially become self-sufficient (apart from its building needs). As the word gets out that low-cost wheelchairs are being designed and built for disabled children, requests are coming in from farther and farther away. The demand is now so great, there is a long waiting list. Gabriel Zepeda, a master wheelchair builder (who is himself paraplegic), gets requests to train community-based craftspersons in different states. Thanks to help from Stichting Liliane Fonds in the Netherlands, which helps cover the cost of wheelchairs for children from poor families, the Children’s Wheelchair Shop is now essentially self-sufficient (though funds are still needed for renovating and expanding its new facilities. With the help of students of industrial design from the Netherlands, who have visited during the summers, the team has been increasing the efficiency of their wheelchair design and construction. In the last year the team has produced over 100 individually designed wheelchairs for disabled children.

The PROJIMO Skills Training and Work Program is also planning to start in Duranguito a Toy Making and Crafts shop, such as it had in Ajoya.

PROJIMO Duranguito Multimedia

To see a photo presentation showing a variety of wheelchairs made here, click below:

For a look at the Children’s Wheelchair Workshop circa 1999, see Wheelchair Design at PROJIMO: Photographs and Memories of Maurits Zijp

HISTORY: Project PROJIMO: Community-Based Rehabilitation for the Disabled by the Disabled

by David Werner, 1990

from “Project PROJIMO: A Program For and By Disabled People"

My main interest is in innovative community program where disabled persons themselves or members of their families take the lead in management, provision of services and decision making. My interest in program that are run by and help empower disabled persons comes from my own personal bias, for I, myself, have a physical disability.

PROJIMO is a Spanish word for ‘neighbour’. But it also stands for Program of Rehabilitation Organized by Disabled Youth of Western Mexico. PROJIMO is a rural program run by disabled villagers to serve disabled children and their families. It was started in 1982 by disabled village health workers from an older community-based health program, Project Piaxtla, now in its 23rd year. In the early years of Piaxtla some of the health workers selected by their villagers happened to be disabled. As the years passed, some of these disabled persons proved to be among the best health workers. Perhaps this was because participation in the health work had brought them from a marginal to a central position in their community. For whatever reasons, they tended to work with greater compassion and commitment than most of the able-bodied workers. In time, some of the disabled health workers became leaders in the primary care program.

The disabled health workers became increasingly concerned that they knew very little about meeting the needs of disabled people, especially children. Adding to their problem, the prices in the cities for braces or calipers, wheelchairs, therapy and other necessities for disabled persons, were often too high for the villagers to afford. The cost to get a child with polio walking could economically ruin the child’s extended family. The orthopedic devices made by specialists in the cities also tended to be elaborate and heavy. They were usually fitted onto big boots that made the child feel out of place in her village. Surely, thought the health workers, there must be more simple, low-cost alternatives. Five years ago the health workers met with the other villagers of Ajoya to ask for community support to start a rural program for disabled children. The villagers responded enthusiastically and PROJIMO began.

Over the next few years, adventurous rehabilitation specialists with a sense of innovation and community commitment—including physical and occupational therapists, brace makers, limb makers, wheelchair makers and special educators—made short volunteer visits to the program to help teach their skills to the village health workers. As appropriate methods and skills were tried, they were drafted into a series of simple and clear guidelines, experimental instruction sheets, and handouts for families. These were tested and corrected over and over again, until finally they were put together to form the reference manual, Disabled Village Children. Today, among a wide range of rehabilitation services including physical therapy and correcting club feet and contractures, the disabled team makes low-cost lightweight braces, wheelchairs and artificial limbs at about one-tenth the cost of less appropriate models made in the cities. Word of the village program has spread and disabled children have been brought to the program from 10 states in Mexico. More than half come from the slums of the cities. In a village of 850 people, PROJIMO has helped meet needs of over 1,500 disabled persons, mostly children and their families.

PROJIMO differs from many rehabilitation programs in a number of ways:

  • Community control. Unlike many “community-based” programs, which are designed and run by outsiders, PROJIMO is run and controlled by local disabled villagers.

  • De-professionalization. The village team, although they have mastered many “professions” skills, is made up of disabled persons with an average education of only three years of primary school. Their training has been mostly of the non-formal, learn-by-doing type. There are no titled professionals on the PROJIMO staff. Rehabilitation professionals are invited for short visits to teach rather than to practice their skills.

  • Equality between service providers and receivers. When asked how many “workers” they have, the PROJIMO team has no easy answer. This is because there is no clear line between those who provide services and those who receive them. Visiting disabled young persons and their families are invited to help in whatever way then can. Most of the PROJIMO workers first came for rehabilitation themselves. They began to help in different ways, decided to stay and gradually became team members and leaders.

  • Self-government through group process. The PROJIMO team has been trying to develop an approach to planning, organization, and decision-making in which all participants take part. They are trying to free themselves from the typical “boss-servant” work relationship and form more of a “work partnership”. The group elects its co-ordinators on a one-month rotating basis so that everyone has a turn. This leads to a lot of inefficiency and confusion, but to a much more democratic group process.

  • Modest earnings. The PROJIMO team believes that they should work for the same low pay as that of the farming and laboring families they serve. They can see that the high pay demanded by professionals and technicians is one reason that the children of the poor often cannot get the therapy and aids they need.

  • Grassroots multiplying effect. The PROJIMO approach has been spreading in various ways. Locally, families of disabled children in a number of towns and villages have begun to organize, build playgrounds, and form their own special education programs in other parts of Mexico and Latin America to visit and take ideas back to them. Some programs have sent disabled representatives to work and learn at PROJIMO for several months so they can start similar programs in their own area.

  • Unity with all who are marginalized. The PROJIMO team sees society’s unfair attitudes towards disabled people as only one aspect of an unjust social structure. They feel that disabled persons should join in solidarity with all who are rejected, misjudged, exploited or not treated as equals. This feeling has led the team to become more self-critical and to seek greater equality for women within their own group.

Geert’s PROJIMO History and Timeline

Geert Cuypers, husband of Morelios Marielos, has put together a history of PROJIMO, including a timeline and photo gallery. We are adapting his work here.

PROJIMO Photo Gallery


  • PROJIMO: Program for Rehabilitation by Disabled Youth of Western Mexico by Heather Toporowski, B.Sc.P.T. (February 9, 2005)

    Participating in the PROJIMO experience was interesting, rewarding and also tiring! I learned a lot about the philosophy and experience of Community Based Rehabilitation, which will prepare me for other volunteer placements I hope to have in the future. I also found myself stretched as a physical therapist, as I worked with wheelchair training, making recommendations about seating and orthopaedic appliances, and assisting in developing ADL skills. One of my proudest moments was when I successfully built a splint to enable a patient with quadriplegia to feed herself for the first time. My ability to communicate in Spanish also improved as a result of my experience there- from working in therapy, from my classes, and also from living with a family.