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Proyecto Casa de Ayuda Intermedia al Menesteroso (CAIM)

Who We Are

Proyecto Casa de Ayuda Intermedia al Menesteroso (CAIM) provides syringe exchange, food and a point of access to link its participants to health care, education, risk-reduction counseling and referrals for social entitlements, rehabilitation/detoxification.

CAIM Executive Director Rafael Torreuella and his all-volunteer network provide syringe exchange services to hundreds of drug users, preventing HIV and hepatitis C.

CAIM serves two shooting gallery communities, Pedro Rosario Nieves and Maternillo, in the Municipality of Fajardo, the easternmost town in Puerto Rico.

Who We Serve

The drug users who benefit from CAIM’s services are in extreme poverty, homeless and socially disenfranchised. As one participant said, “they are the lepers most of Fajardo would prefer dead.”

For the 150 to 200 people CAIM serves at Pedro Rosario Nieves, the most common drug is horse anesthesia. The participants need more than detoxification and rehabilitation for opiate use. Injecting horse anesthesia creates lesions on the legs that ooze puss and require constant monitoring.

The stigma facing CAIM’s clients are such that they are openly disparaged and sometimes refused treatment by medical personnel at the local clinics.

Relationship with Housing Works

Since 2008, CAIM has received technical and fiscal assistance from Housing Works, Inc. the largest community-based AIDS service organization in the United States. Housing Works and CAIM share a common mission of providing care and treatment to active drug users and other disenfranchised people at risk of HIV and hepatitis C.

On the national and global stage, Housing Works provides technical assistance to and collaborates with community-based groups across the country and around the world with a focus on marginalized communities.

Contact

Rafael Torruella is the executive director of CAIM. He can be reached at r.torruella@housingworks.org.

About the founder

Gloria González founded the Proyecto Casa de Ayuda Intermedia al Menesteroso Program.

In 2008 González received the prestigious Keith Cylar U.S. AIDS Activist Award from Housing Works. Her work providing services, referrals and harm reduction services for Fajardo’s approximately 300 injection drug users earned her a $10,000 cash prize.

As a former drug user, González has a personal connection to the people she serves, and is a strong proponent of the harm reduction philosophy.
González lives in Fajardo, Puerto Rico with her son Shaquille.