Mission to Guatemala: Last days

Today, the nursing/pharmacy team had the privilege of traveling to a prominent coffee plantation and offering a hand. We focused on providing health screenings and education to the plantation workers and their families. We were also able to hand out dental hygiene kits to all the individuals we crossed paths with. One thing that we have really learned on this trip is the value of teamwork. The nursing students, pharmacy students, and a Guatemalan doctor all worked hand in hand to provide this community with access to healthcare. We also got the opportunity to see how this plantation prepares their coffee products. Now not to brag, but if this healthcare stuff does not work out, some of us may have a future in the coffee industry. The highlight of our day was definitely towards the end. As we were passing the horse stables, we saw one of the young boys we had seen on day 1 of this trip. When we first saw him, he was the picture of discomfort and pain. Today, when we asked him how he was feeling, he responded with the biggest smile and an endless amount of gratitude. This was a reminder that all our hard work here was making a difference.

The PT/OT team spent our last workday back at Keramion, the school for special needs children that we visited on Monday. The day began with a bit of dancing, followed by receiving gifts from the children. We were so amazed by the generosity that we were shown and will treasure the gifts as well as the hugs we were given. Afterwards, the OT team saw one more child with autism who had some behavior issues that the mother and teachers wanted to discuss. We were able to provide education on different calming strategies such as deep pressure, bouncing on a ball, and slow swinging. His mom was present and was really interested in learning, and some of the other OT team members also had the chance to interact with child’s younger sister. Following this, the PT and OT students set up a small obstacle course for the children. Due to rain, we had to move it inside, but it still worked! The staff was excited to learn about new ways to engage the children in purposeful play that would encourage practicing different skills such as crawling, jumping, and grasping various objects.

The children headed home after completing the obstacle course so that the afternoon could be used for a staff in-service. Griselda, the school’s founder, also shared more of her incredible testimony with us, and we were able to pray for her which was a very moving experience for everyone involved. The PT students on the team also worked with Griselda on different exercises and were able to give her advice on managing her back pain. It was amazing to see how much she had improved in only a few days! For lunch, Belmont team members treated the staff to spaghetti, and the rest of the day was spent training the staff on specific topics such as sensory integration, proper lifting techniques, and behavior management. All of the staff members were extremely grateful for our help this week. After spending so much time together, it was hard to say goodbye, but we know that the children are in good hands at Keramion and that God is definitely at work there. It was such a blessing to bear witness to this incredible ministry this week.

Written by: Anais, Emily, Alicia, and Hope

Mission to Guatemala: Mother’s Day

Today was Mother’s Day which is a major holiday in Guatemala as many of the mothers had the day off work. We wanted to help serve the community by helping them prepare for the special celebration.  We enjoyed helping the students decorate and pick flowers from the field for the mothers. The PT/OT team also supported the nursing and pharmacy students stepping in as needed to assist with orthopedic and musculoskeletal concerns.  We worked as a team to identify the proper professional needed for each case.  The PT/OT team also spent the afternoon preparing educational materials for the upcoming day tomorrow.

Today, the nursing team primarily focused on mothers and children, with cultural perspective seeming to be the theme of the day. Because there was such a high number of mothers and children seen there were several things that we realized that we never noticed before. One was the relative age of mothers. Today we had a mother who was 19 with two children. This provided a dose of perspective as several members on the team are around this age and could not even imagine being in her shoes. It was also shocking to realize how access to care differs from America. Back home, if we have a concern with a child we can just drive to a clinic; however, here in Guatemala mothers showed up from all around carrying babies on their backs knowing that we were the only resources they had access to. It was eye-opening and humbling to see how far these women came just for us to get the opportunity to care for them.

Written by: Kristin & Dylan from nursing and Lexi & Maggie from PT/OT

 

Mission to Guatemala: Teamwork

TEAMWORK was the word of the day. Today both the OT/PT and Nursing/Pharmacy teams went to a coffee plantation with a school attached. Nursing and Pharmacy set up a health screening station similar to yesterday where they checked blood pressure, blood glucose, and height/weight. We assessed their needs for any medications and the doctor was able to write prescriptions. For example, one coffee worker came in for a screening and stated there were no complaints. When the nursing team found out he was having knee pain, the physical therapists were brought in to show him exercises for strengthening and explain why those would be beneficial. He was very grateful because he could apply what he learned to his everyday work. In addition, while performing a health screening on a mom and her son, nursing noticed that the son was having difficulty with using his hands. Occupational therapy was brought in to do a short assessment with the son and he was given a bag of toys to take home with him to work on his fine motor skills and radial-ulnar dissociation. He was overjoyed and thankful for the toys that he could call his own.

The kids at the school were preparing for Mother’s Day tomorrow, which is a huge holiday here and the kids were excited to make crafts for their “madre”. The kids split into groups and made necklaces bracelets with beads and a card with flowers and a special message to their mom. After this activity, the kids were excited to play outside with jump ropes, soccer and parachutes. The team noticed how much joy and happiness the kids had on their faces and in turn how much joy and happiness they brought to each one of us.

Even though there was a language barrier, the interpreters were very helpful and greatly appreciated. While there was difficulty finding interpreters who were willing to take off work from their daily jobs to help, there were a few who were gracious enough to fill the need. Along with an interpreter, a few people on the team taught CPR for adults and infants as well as the Heimlich maneuver to the adults and high school students. The parents were grateful for this education and were able to practice on the mannequin.

As we performed screenings, played outside with the kids, and did arts and crafts, every one of us on the team was amazed by the joy and love we received from them. Our work is truly appreciated and we can’t wait to go back again tomorrow to help celebrate Mother’s Day!!!

Adios for today from Guatemala!

Maria (PT), Hope (OT) and Allison (Nursing)

Mission to Guatemala: Our first day

Buenas Noches!! We successfully completed our first day of clinics here in Antigua, and wow was it humbling. The nursing/pharmacy students had the privilege of caring for around 50 students at a local school on a coffee plantation here in town. We set up a pop-up clinic that assisted a Guatemalan doctor providing physicals and basic health screenings for children and their mothers. Although today might not have gone according to our “perfect” schedule, we used today as a learning experience to remind ourselves that God’s perfect plan does not always align with our ideal plan. As a team, we learned that even though our treatment plans may have felt insufficient to the need we were trying to fulfill at the time, our love was sufficient and the Lord’s presence was there. A team member, while providing care, saw this first hand. She was observing a student who was young and just appeared sad and scared. She noticed that the student had been looking at her stethoscope with curiosity so she went and asked if the student would like to listen to her heart. The second the student began to listen her whole demeanor began to change. Her face lit up and she said “Corizone boom boom”. She continued to listen to other body sounds smiling the entire way. Through this encounter, it became apparent that healing is not only physical, it is more so emotional and spiritual, and although we do not have the resources to heal every single medical issue, we do have the capacity to show love and heal spiritually and that is in some cases even more valuable than fixing a physical issue.

At the same time, the physical therapy and occupational therapy team was over at the school for disabled children called Keramion. We started off getting to learn a lot about the school and the teachers that are devoting their lives to help these children. This staff was incredible and so welcoming of the team. Everyone was greeted with a big hug and a such a genuine smile! Griselda, the founder of the school, was so open in telling us her testimony and all she’s gone through to make Keramion an awesome environment for these kids to learn and grow. After meeting the kids, the team split up according to their specific needs and evaluated each child to assess where they are in their development. The staff members were very grateful for ideas that the mission team had given them on past trips and we’re hoping to give them more suggestions to continue the progress they are already making! While a lot of our day consisted of evaluating and utilizing what we have learned in school, a great portion of the day involved playing, interacting, and loving on the kids. A definite highlight of the day was coming back from lunch to everyone singing, dancing, and praising Jesus. We had so much fun brainstorming games for the kids to play that will also help their therapy progress!  After all the thanks we received, we couldn’t help but feel equally blessed by the staff and kids of Keramion and we are so excited to go back on Thursday!

Adios from Guatemala!

Kendall & Macey from PT (in the picture below), Kristin (not pictured) & Brooke ( back row right in the picture above) from nursing