Team Tobati consists of volunteers from Kingswood-Oxford School, led by teacher Ronald Garcia, that have been focused since 1998 on garnering the resources and providing the manual labor to improve education and health care in Tobati, Paraguay, one of the poorest regions of Latin America.
Team Tobati has tripled the size of the town’s only hospital and secured vital equipment and medicines. As a result of Team Tobati’s work, the first child was born in Tobati via Cesarean section last spring and another walked for the first time thanks to the donation of a prosthetic leg. Team Tobati renovated and helped to furnish Tobati’s elementary school with desks and computers, where K-O students teach English and computer use to Tobati children.
The Team helped to build a housing complex for local artisans and transformed a vacant building into a neighborhood clinic. They funded construction of a new transmitting antenna for Tobati radio to broadcast weekly medical programs. Team Tobati funded weekly visits by a pediatrician, gynecologist and dentist from Asuncion. They also recruited physicians from Bristol Hospital and the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center to provide services and training, respectively.
To date, more than 75 students and five K-O teachers and parents have been on Team Tobati. In the last three years, the students have collected more than $350,000 dollars in medical and educational equipment for the village. Gonzalez Macchi, the president of Paraguay, has publicly lauded Team Tobati’s efforts.
After spending the fall semester raising funds for village needs, Team Tobati travels to Paraguay every Spring Break for two weeks of work and community. More than 5,000 villagers turned out to welcome the 2001 team.
“The students’ presence [in Tobati] is huge,” Garcia says. “The students who have been to Tobati have been struck by how open and welcoming and warm the people are to foreigners. The students have also surprised themselves with the goodness that comes out of them, both toward the people of Tobati and each other. This journey will have a profound impact on the values they will ultimately embrace as adults.”