Filomena (Filo) Siles

Year Joined MKLM: 2016
Country: Bolivia
City: Cochabamba
Focus: Education, Health
Project(s): Foundation for Social Justice, Rural Disabilities Outreach
People Served: Children and youth with disabilities

Project Goal(s): Help those with disabilities to have a better quality of life

Current Ministry:

In her first year as a Maryknoll lay missioner, Filo utilized her skills and experiences at Leer y Escribir con Alegria, a project that assists children who need specialized, individualized attention to learn to read and write. After two to three months of tutoring, Filo had enabled the children to read at their appropriate grade-level.

Filo decided to leave Leer y Escribir so that she could focus all of her attention on the foundation she and her husband, Joe, created. The Foundation for Social Justice promotes social inclusion for children and youth with intellectual, physical, visual, auditory, mental, and multiple disabilities. Filo and Joe currently work with a team of three Bolivians to support two communities outside of the city of Cochabamba. The foundation utilizes the methods of Community Based Rehabilitation as outlined by the World Health Organization. Filo serves as Executive Director of the foundation, coordinating and planning workshops for the beneficiaries and community members involved in the program. She also works directly with the beneficiaries and their schools on visits to these rural areas.

This project is supporting approximately 200 children and youth with disabilities, improving the daily quality of life in their homes, schools, and communities. Working with government leaders, teachers, and health promoters, the foundation empowers the community surrounding these individuals to create a context in which they can thrive and grow, utilizing all of their abilities and gifts.

Filo feels that the Maryknoll Lay Missioner family has enabled her to realize her call to be a missioner. Despite the challenges inherent in living out the call to mission on a daily basis, she is thrilled to be involved in the daily work of the MKLM community. She is hopeful that the Foundation will be able to support not only the individuals they are currently serving, but also the community, as it creates an infrastructure to care for all of its members.

Personal Data:

Filo is from Cochabamba, Bolivia. She is a Licensed Grade School Teacher, having studied at the Catholic University of Bolivia, and has an Advanced Certification in Special Education. Filo has aided children with autism, learning disabilities, trauma histories, and visual impairments throughout her career. She was the founding Executive Director of the Archdiocesan Foundation Padre Ignacio Zalles, which is dedicated to providing holistic care to blind children, youth, and young adults.

Filo met her husband Joe Loney, a Maryknoll lay missioner, in Bolivia at a center for the visually impaired. Filo and Joe have two children, Benjamin and Pauline.