Rodrigo Tommei Family

Success Stories “A place for Gonzalo.


That’s how long Maria Laura Tommei says she’s known her son would be successful.

Tommei’s 19-year-old son Gonzalo is deafblind. For many in his home country of Argentina, it’s difficult to believe that a young man without sight or vision can hold a job or plant a garden – at least until they meet his family. The Tommeis have done everything to ensure Gonzalo’s success. When they couldn’t find a school that met Gonzalo’s needs, they started their own school near their home in Rosario.

“We have always tried to think about Gonzalo’s future,” said Tommei. “We work hard to maximize the possibilities for him to have a dignifying and happy life.”

The Tommeis opened their school, Mi Lugar, in 2003. Since then, they have not only succeeded in maximizing Gonzalo’s quality of life, but also the lives of dozens of other children and their families. Mi Lugar, which means “My Place,” is a Therapeutic Education Center for children and young adults with deafblindness or multiple sensory needs.

“We chose the name Mi Lugar because we were looking for a place that we could feel was our own,” said Tommei. “We needed a space for our children and their families to learn and be supported. Still today, there is no other place that compares to Mi Lugar.”

Eighteen students, ages 4 to 26, currently attend Mi Lugar. Because of the school’s limited physical space, young adults attend a Transition to Adulthood program in the morning and younger students come during the afternoon.

Mi Lugar provides more than just an academic education. An important part of the school’s mission is to teach students to participate in their local community. Many activities and communication techniques are offered with that goal in mind.

“I think that Mi Lugar exposes children of all ages to an inclusive community – and that community empowers the students and their families,” said Tommei.

Understanding that families play a crucial role in helping children with multiple sensory disabilities learn and thrive, the Tommeis established regular parent teacher meetings and free parent workshops.

“No family chooses to have a person with deafblindness, but it is through that challenge that we grow and we make sure that they have everything they need,” said Tommei.

Perkins International’s Latin America headquarters, based in nearby Córdoba, helped launch the school’s parent services. When Mi Lugar wanted to offer advanced trainings, counseling services, and ongoing assessments to identify the unique learning needs of each student, they also turned to the local Perkins office for help.