Mission to Guatemala 2012
Feliz Dia de Madre! Today is Mother’s Day in Guatemala. We all got this message at 4 am with a 5 minute blast of fire crackers in the courtyard!
The team headed to Tecpan – a rural farming village about 2 hours west of the city. We teamed up with JT Childrens Foundation – an organization that provided physical and occupational therapy for kids. 1/2 of the team stayed at the foundation assisting with therapy and the nurses gave CPR training.
The other half went out into a community in the mountains. We were at Melvin’s home. Melvin is a 14 yr old kid with CP. His home is on top of a steep incline – maybe 200 meters from the main road. Melvin walks down the stairs to the main road to get to therapy. The stairs have been washed smooth over time. His handrail….barb wire! Yikes.
We spent the day cutting out new stairs and installed a rope for a hand rail. Pretty good day of manual labor. We did of course find time to play with all the kids. Spanish is the 2nd language in this area. the main language is a Mayan dialect of Q’eqchi. Super nice folks.
After work we headed into Antigua were we will be for the next 2 nights. Friday is our day off – zip lining and shopping.
Mission to Guatemala 2012
by Rachel Haddock
Today was as busy and fun filled as the previous few days. I was a part of a team who spend the majority of the day at the school meeting classrooms full of children ages kindergarten through the 6th grade. With entry into each classroom we were greeted with songs. We watched as they made gifts for their mothers and had time to play as well. We spent the rest of our time painting a classroom that was built a few years ago and really needed a fresh coat of paint.
The highlight of the day, for me was when we went into the village where we got to see how great the poverty is and what seemed to me was the 'real Guatemala' and what daily life is like for people here. We met a wonderful family whose daughter is suffering from chronic renal failure. She was hooked up to a make-shift dialysis device and we heard from her mother that the young girl wanted most was to ride a bike again before she died. This statement was not only incredibly touching and heartbreaking but motivating for our team. As we left them, we made the decision to buy her a bicycle before we left. In the middle of dinner she and her mother and father came to the Nazarene Center to get her gift. We were all overwhelmed by her father's gratitude and her mother's tears. The little girl was so excited and was able to practice immediately, her joy was undeniable. It was so humbling and rewarding to know that we made a difference in her life and hopefully made her time before and after surgery a time she can enjoy and have fun like other kids.
I am looking forward to the adventures and challenges that we face tomorrow but I am so encouraged after tonight, seeing the impact we made simply by giving a little girl a bike- something we take for granted everyday back home.
Mission to Guatemala 2012
Our first visit was to Lucy. The nursing team and I were honored with an invitation inside her home, and witnessed a kind of gratitude for that home (which had been built by The Shalom Foundation) that far outdid what any of could have expected from someone living in such extreme poverty. Our hearts broke in unison when Lucy disclosed that the beautiful baby girl in her womb was past due, and that she completely lacked access to any kind of hospital, clinic, or even midwife to facilitate delivery… Las Conchas simply didn’t have anything to offer her or her baby to be… And Lucy simply didn’t have access to transportation. Her plan, when the time came, was to take to the bumpy dirt road outside her home and walk until she passed someone who could help. Not long after, we ran into Julio, another man Shalom had provided for in the past. With one of his precious daughters wrapped around his legs, Julio lamented that he no longer had a job and that he was struggling to provide food and fulfill basic needs for his family. Heart-wrenching visits like these passed one by one throughout the day until finally, standing outside a small tin home on a hillside of the Las Conchas community while the nursing team examined another helpless baby girl, I stared down the steep dirt road toward the masses of other small tin houses, and thought to myself that there was simply too much.
Luckily, I had someone there to remind me that miracles happen one by one. And the reminder was well-timed. Today was a day of miracles. I even think I may have contributed to one very special miracle at the clinic that we visited in Las Canoas. The nurses were overjoyed at the bags and bags of medical donations that we brought with us. They dug right into everything, and with great care they organized it all between the two small rooms that functioned as their office and exam room. Their gratitude for the donations was unmistakable. still it wasn’t long before I became aware of a rather large deterrent to their actual ability to use many of the supplies that we were leaving them with: They couldn’t read any of it. In fact, they couldn’t read any of the bottles or instruction sheets for any of the drugs that they had so neatly organized in their cabinets from previous rounds of donations. It was therefore with great honor that I was able to translate the function and dosage information for their entire cabinet. The nurses enthusiastically noted and labeled everything, with their minds undoubtedly full of the many local people that they would now be able to treat with the medicines they had received.
The need here is overwhelming. But with the right mixture of generosity and sharing of skills… perhaps these small miracles can be even more so.
Mission to Guatemala 2012
Tuesday May 8th was our third day in Guatemala, and the second day we were out in the community doing work. The team of nurses started the day at the Hospital for the children with infectious diseases and in need of rehabilitation. First we met the nurse director who gave us a tour of the entire hospital, she was amazing and taught us about how they run all of the separate units in the hospital. We were introduced to the pediatricians and the staff nurses and they showed us around each of their respective units and we met some of their patients. The last unit we went to was the intensive care unit. There we were met by the supervising nurse of the ICU where she welcomed us in and we had to wash our hands and get on gowns. We met all of the patients in the ICU and learned their stories. After that we all split up into three groups, one group in the ICU, one in the emergency room and one group taking vital signs in the general admission unit. All of the groups helped take care of patients and worked side by side with the nurses in the hospital. After lunch we left the hospital and went to the university to teach the physical therapy students there CPR and the Heimlich maneuver. Last we went back to the Moore surgery center, to hold a fabulous baby shower for Maria Jose. We had an amazing day and were completely blessed to spend it together helping the children in Guatemala.
OT and PT got to visit the hospital again this morning and worked with the Guatemalan therapists to treat several children. The therapists seemed happy to see us again this morning and involved us in each treatment session. My favorite memory from the hospital was working with a little boy named Oscar who is diagnosed with microcephaly and is blind. Oscar doesn’t have proper strength within his trunk in order to sit up straight, so his spine kind of looks like a “c”. Tamara worked on positioning Oscar to help straighten his spine, but needed a little “something extra” to help involve Oscar in the therapy session. She asked us to start singing and as we did he immediately responded to everything Tamara was doing! It was such a great experience to be involved in something so simple but so monumental for this little boy. Oscar most definitely melted a piece of my heart today. After the hospital we traveled to the surgery center to see patients. OTs and PTs split into two groups and worked with patients that had previously visited the surgery center. This was a great learning experience and everyone was able to learn more about our disciplines and about how to work together to give the best treatment possible. We then joined the nursing students for the baby shower and had a fantastic time playing baby shower games and showing love to Maria Jose and her family. Today was absolutely fantastic and I can’t wait to see what else Guatemala has to teach us!
Mission to Guatemala 2012
by Constance Taras
Today was both exhausting and exhilarating. We started off the day at the government hospital in the heart of Guatemala City. The OT and PT students split into our respective gyms to work with a few of the children scheduled for the day. I broke off with a few other PT students to work with 3 babies in the stimulation room where we observed the mothers learning at home stretches for their children as well as visual stimulation activities. We then were able to take the children into a dark room and work with lights to work on visual tracking and postural control. The child I worked with, Cido, started off with a lag as he was following the blinking glow stick and by the end of the 5 minute exercise was successful able to track with his eyes and head in all directions. The progress, even if just small, was extremely rewarding.
We then moved into the main gym and worked with some of the inpatient clients. These children presented with an array of problems from CP to malnutrition. We worked with the Guatemalan PTs to learn what was already being used to help the children as well as suggesting other activities. I loved the hands on opportunities to work directly with the children implementing techniques learned in school as well as learning new ones along the way. After breaking for lunch, a group of us traveled to the local Physical Therapy school to have a collaborative lab with their students. It was extremely challenging to engage with Spanish speaking students and to collectively come up with activities that could benefit both PTs and OTs. We emphasized the importance of communication and collaboration between the disciplines. It was amazing to see that although communication was difficult we were able to complete the task as a bi-cultural group. The visit to the school ended our work day but left me with an amazing feeling of accomplishment and excitement for the days to come.
Mission to Guatemala 2012
by Jennifer Tong and Morgan King
Jennifer: It was an early start to the morning as we gathered as a team to travel to Guatemala! This has a been a trip that I have been anticipating even before I started PT school at Belmont. The morning was filled with a combination of excitement and exhaustion. We arrived in Guatemala with all of our team members and all of our luggage! We all hopped on a bus and arrived at the pediatrics surgery center to have lunch and tour the facility. Before I talk about the surgery center, I need to mention the streets and the people that I saw. There were people walking everywhere and random booths set up by the locals. The toughest thing to see was the poverty in this country. There were these two children sitting on the sidewalk, holding a cup in their hand, and begging for money. This was just another reminder of how I take everything for granted, especially the things I don't even think about that like a roof over my head, a bed, food, and water. Now, about the surgery center! This surgery center was built for children who are less fortunate and can't afford to pay for the necessary surgeries. It was so inspiring to hear about the difference these surgeons were making in lives of so many children in Guatemala. I'm excited to see the difference our team is going to make in the lives of the people in Guatemala this week!
Morgan: Arrived in Guatemala City around noon to a crowd of individuals waiting behind barriers at the airport (now I know what celebrities feel like). We loaded a school bus and headed to the Surgery Center for lunch and to take a tour of the facility. I was sort of in culture shock at the surgery center because I realized how fortunate we are in the United States to have so many necessities. The surgery center was perfect though for the families in Guatemala. Children's paintings with bible verses were all over the facility. It was amazing to see the hard work and volunteers that have helped put the center together and make it possible to help families out in Guatemala with surgeries that would never be possible without the help of Shalom. After we left the surgery center, we took a "crazy" bus ride through the city to the Nazarene center. People are walking all over the streets (men, women, children). Let's just saw I saw my life and other peoples life flash before my eyes with the traffic in Guatemala. Once we arrived at the center we checked in our rooms and all hung out with our team. We got the chance to learn about a lot of our members and talk about the culture shock of the things we saw in Guatemala. Now it's bed time. Big day tomorrow! Full of exciting events at the Orphanage and local hospital.
Mission to Guatemala 2012
by Tiffany Campbell
Today was our arrival into Guatemala City. After arriving into the airport our whole team was transported by a yellow school bus to the pediatric Moore Surgery center for lunch and a tour. Driving to the surgery center was nerve wrecking. Traffic rules are more like suggestions here, which is something I personally have never experienced. We received our itinerary for the week, watched a video about the surgery center, and Claudia gave us some words of encouragement for the week. She made it known to us even though we may not be able to speak Spanish, we can smile and give a hug because love is a universal language. After that we were very worn out from getting up so early and flights so we checked in at the Nazarene Seminary where we are staying for the week.
Team Members include: Tamara Garvey, Kelly Brown, Jennifer Tong, Andrea Wheman, Carly Walls, Allison Toole, Lindley Holder, Rachel Haddock, Darcy King, Alison Martin, Amanda Sisco, Morgan King, Aimee Costa, Mary Beth Long, Jami Graham, Constance Taras, Tessa Irwin, Britt Colston, Ashley Ganus, Sheila Robb, Jenna Briggs, Tyler Servedio, Casea Calvert, Tiffany Campbell, Leslie Simmons, Cassandra Goble, Jamie Adam, Natham Adam and Joe Doughty.
Dr. Ruth Ford recently attended the Aging in America Conference 2012 sponsored by ASA and NCOA in Washington, D.C. The political arena in Washington, D.C. was most vibrant with Supreme Court Hearings that week for the Affordable Health Care Act debate and the appropriation budget hearings for the Older American Act.
Ford met with Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander and Sen. Bob Corker as well as Keith Studdard, legislative director from Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s office, to discuss aging issues. She also attended a Capital Hill Advocacy Day to hear from several senators presenting on aging issues. The conference addressed many key issues with the Baby Boomer generation turning 65 and impacting wellness and healthcare in our society. Ford received a Belmont travel grant to help with funding her trip.
Ford has brought learning materials and class lecture content back for the doctoral of occupational therapy students. She is exploring a Maymester class for 2013 where students, faculty, and staff can learn about successful aging and ways to overcome barriers to aging.
Occupational therapy students enrolled in the course, Human Development for an Aging Population, recently attended two community aquatic programs with aging adults to learn about health promotion and wellness. The class along with Associate Professor Dr. Ruth Ford engaged in aquatic exercises at Baptist Hospital Fitness Center and an arthritis aquatic program at the Dayani Center at Vanderbilt Medical center. Students identified water exercises as being a meaningful occupation for seniors and were able to distinguish the variance in demands on body structure and function while in the water while experimenting with the adaptive aquatic equipment.
The older adult swimmers shared their rationales for participating regularly in aquatic exercises to maintain strength, range of motion, control pain, and to stimulate overall well being and emotional health. The oldest male swimmer was 96 years old, another 86. Several of the women stated they had been attending regularly 3-5 times a year for up to 10 years. The class experience helped students identify community resources; provide inter-generational activity; and develop awareness of value of aquatic therapy.