María Belén Ibáñez Justiniano
Animals & Human Health Certificate 2014
María Belén Ibáñez Justiniano completed the Animals and Human Health (AHH) certificate program in 2014 from her home country of Bolivia. She went on to establish EQOVOLARE, Bolivia's first officially registered animal-assisted therapy center, where she leads a team of professionals and provides training for her local community in Spanish while focusing on practice techniques inclusive of ethics, empathy, compassion and respect for the human-animal bond. Justiniano also serves as a board member of FUNDACIÓN CONECTANDO VIDAS, a nonprofit organization that supports the promotion of the human-animal bond in health and education, mainly in social programs for disadvantaged people and families.
“In Latin America, we have little access to programs related to [animals and human health], and less in our native language, because it is an area still in full development," Justiniano explains.
"I decided to enroll in the Animals and Human Health program because I perceived a high-quality professionalism in their curriculum and impact on the international community,” Justiniano says. “The best part was feeling part of a community of fighters for the same mission: the power of connection with animals and nature. I made great friends and colleagues who I still consider my mentors.”