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Support Worker Marcela Gaona describes her experience at Casa Apap Bologna as rewarding and that she feels grateful to work with children with autism

“My experience has been challenging but rewarding and for that I am grateful”, said Marcela Gaona, a 33-year-old support worker at Casa Apap Bologna.

Born in Colombia Marcela studied Occupational Therapy and worked as a nurse assistant in the emergency department at a hospital in Colombia for eight years. About four years ago she decided to leave her country to come to Malta to study the English Language and it was last year that she found this amazing job opportunity to work as a support worker at Casa Apap Bologna.

“It’s fantastic to be part of this service. Working with children with autism is so rewarding especially when you see their improvement. There is one particular child who over a year has managed to eat and drink alone, even though  supervised, but to see how far this child has come, is unexplainable.”

Marcela mentions how all children are challenging in different ways especially since there a some who cannot communicate at all except with their bodies and how she manages to understand what they want or what they need.

“When you have known them for long you manage to understand them and you can build different ways of communication with the children.”

Marcela mentioned how even when at times she has personal problems, whenever she is at work, she simply forgets about her troubles because she knows that through what she does she is making the life of someone she cares about, better. “The best part of being a support worker is the hugs I receive, those are the best! The children are always so appreciative – they show how much they care about you and that they have a sense of belonging.”

She mentions that when she came to Malta she did not see herself working with children but now that for the past year she has been working at Casa Apap Bologna she knows and feels that she is working at the right place. “To live we need money, so we need to work but I feel that I do not do my job just to earn money. We are dealing with humans and sometimes I worry that I do not do enough for the children or that I did not understand them well but a simple look from the child and you understand that everything is well.”

Marcela Gaona mentions how in Malta there is awareness about the challenges that children with autism and their families face and she sees this in comparison to similar situations in Colombia.

“Malta takes care of people with autism even if they are not born in Malta and even their family is taken care of.”

April is the month dedicated to autism, during which a worldwide effort is created to promote inclusion & self-determination not only for people with autism but also for the ones who love and support them.

Through HILA, persons are empowered through choice and developing individual abilities towards an inclusive and fulfilling life with the main aim for people with disability is to reach their full potential.

HILA is CareMalta Group’s expert in specialised care, offering a range of services including housing, support and care, learning and development, and leisure with a person-centred approach.

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