Everybody Dance Now!!! (Arriba! Abajo! A derecho!, A la izquierda!)
We began today at Hermano Pedro, a hospital, residential care center, and church. They house approximately 250 residents, many of who are in wheelchairs. We were immediately taken to “dance group” where we, of course, jumped right in to help out! We were told by one of the volunteers that many of the residents were non-verbal but were very expressive with their face, and he wasn’t kidding! These kiddos lit up at just a simple touch and smiled from ear to ear when we were dancing with them. It was such a great start to our time there. After dance group we were split up. Paige was able to go to the baby room and help out with several feeding questions for parents whose children were in the baby wing and she played PT for a mom who needed help with trunk/neck strengthening. Nicole, Kelly, and Carol were sent to the pediatric wing where there were approximately 100 children in wheelchairs. This was obviously an overwhelming situation and due to time constraints and scheduling we were not able to do as much as we would have liked; however, at the last minute Nicole and Kelly were able to provide a wheelchair to a little girl who had been living at the hospital for two weeks without one. It is our impression that because she did not have a chair she was mostly bed-ridden unless a volunteer got her out of her crib to hold her. The chair fit PERFECTLY! God really provides for those in need and Nicole and Kelly were so humbled and grateful to be His hands. Carol spent time loving on as many kiddos at she could and was able to briefly go to the baby room to spend some time with them. We are truly grateful for this new relationship and are looking forward to future trips where we can build on it.
After Hermano Pedro we headed to San Lucas to a feeding center where we were able to help a boy from the village whom had cerebral palsy. Nicole was able to fit him with night stretching splints to help gain enough range for an AFO for the next trip. Kelly was able to fit a Benik and give oral sensory ideas for increased food and oral structure awareness. Paige was able to give him oral motor exercises to decrease drooling and Carol taught his mom how to better cue him to swallow. It truly was a TEAM effort! Additionally, Nicole assessed a young girl who had a significant leg length discrepancy and we are hoping to get her a lifted shoe by our next trip. The feeding center was filled with sweet children and we enjoyed playing with them before we left.
We then went to Hogar Amor del Niño’s and spoke with their director who has many connections throughout Guatemala and is willing to help us on future trips reach out to those in significant need.
We look forward to seeing where all our new connections lead us!
Just call us TEAMworks Towing Company! Today we traveled out to Mama Carmen’s farm village to visit some familiar faces. We were able to see a few of our kiddos but road conditions made it difficult to see them all. We began by picking up the local pastor’s son who has always been such a great help in navigating the village and finding the kiddos with the most need. He took us to see Keyla, a sweet teenage girl we have been keeping up with over the past 4 years. Wow, has she grown up! She is still attending school, and she blessed us with the reading of a poem. While she was reading, we noticed she was skipping lines and she told us her eyes occasionally got tired during her school work. Kelly was able to give some visual scanning exercises and Carol worked on adaptive strategies for keeping her place. Due to her difficulty with visual scanning and systematic sounding out of words, Paige noticed she did not comprehend what she was reading and gave some strategies to retain the information. Leo, Nicole, and Kelly worked on stabilizing the wheels on the walker she was using for showering. Because it was rusting, Nicole was able to find a new one that fit and worked perfectly. She was also able to find her some new shoes.
We then went to Benicio’s house. Unfortunately, his mother reported that he had started having increased seizure activity and the group was collectively able to educate her about the symptoms of seizures and safety. His mother was very welcoming this time and told us that she had been bribing him with the new shoes he may get from us in exchange for doing his oral motor exercises. It must have worked because those of us who had seen him before noticed a significant decrease in drooling. We attempted to give him some of the donated shoes but we were unable to find a pair that fit…but we are a generous group and Nicole selflessly stepped up to give him her shoes. They weren’t the perfect fit but with a few modifications they worked and Benicio was very happy!
We know you are not supposed to have favorites but there is one TEAM Guatemala favorite, Wilder. His smile and infectious joy just makes you want to see and help him as much as you can; however, he was out with his family. We were able to leave a bag of things we know he really likes including adaptive materials to help him draw and write.
Now, at the beginning of the blog you were probably wondering why you might call us TEAMworks Towing Company?...well here is why…we are EXCELLENT at pushing cars out of the mud! Please see the evidence below.
Oh Saturday! Today was spent at the Universidad de Valle de Guatemala. It began in the big lecture hall with an introduction to each therapy and to our clinic at Children’s Therapy T.E.A.M. It had previously been requested to list our “Top 10 (or 16) Items” that could be used across disciplines. Items such as, a therapy ball, baby doll, duct tape, bathroom stools, and pillows were all used. Paige got away with introducing some items since benches and balance discs just really weren’t her thing. We then split into “labs”. Each discipline had their own lab and students signed up to attend the labs that were of most interest to them. Paige taught on PECS and spontaneous language development in the natural setting, Kelly taught how to make OT materials from everyday objects and therapy techniques for different diagnoses, and Nicole…well she had quite the time teaching about positioning and therapy techniques for different diagnoses. Things started out well, but then she “stumped her translator” and her notes went temporarily missing; however, she made it through and had tons of good questions from her participants. Lastly, we held a panel interview for those who had specific questions. Many educators and parents attended to ask about their kiddos. We were very happy to help them! Tomorrow we head to Mama Carmen’s farm to see some old friends and follow-up on these sweet children.
We are kind of slow with our photographic updates so, here are some photos from our time at the government funded orphanage and the baby house from Friday.
We would count today a success! We returned to a government-funded orphanage we initially visited last spring. During that visit, it was unclear as to what our role was in this new relationship. It was very important that we return to build the foundation for a continuous relationship and to help them in whatever way we could to care for the 70 + residents they house. We are SO glad we returned! We were greeted eagerly by the staff, which included occupational therapists, physical therapists, and special educators. They were very helpful in gathering the residents for which they had the most concern. Nicole was able to help a gentleman walk by giving him AFOs for stability and show the proper technique for using a walker to help him ambulate. The gentleman was very proud of himself and was smiling and laughing when she was able to walk with him. Paige met a non-verbal young man who strongly reminded her of someone back home and quickly formed a bond. She was able to initiate the PECS program and educate his teachers on how to best help him and the other residents communicate. He picked it up VERY quickly and we think it will be a very viable communication system for him. Kelly helped with the many sensory needs of the residents…and there were A LOT! We are so grateful God afforded us the opportunity to further our relationships with this orphanage and those who work there. They are truly caring individuals who have a heart to serve their residents.
We then met up with Carol and traveled to a baby orphanage. Not a bad way to end the day, right? So many adorable children! Paige was able to help so many children with language delay and articulation issues, and she and Kelly helped educate the nannies on how to best feed a child with was likely aspirating. Nicole worked on educating about tummy time and transitions for mobility. The workers in this baby house were so eager to learn and Carol had said that she could really see a difference between now and her previous visit.
Tomorrow are our University presentations. We will be speaking to special educators from all over Guatemala. Please pray for wisdom, guidance, and the right words to convey what we do in a manner that will motivate and enable them to make an impact on the kiddos throughout Guatemala.
We made to Guatemala! Thank you Delta for waiving our fees and being so kind to us during our travels!
We were warmly welcomed by the friends we have made here in Guatemala and treated to lunch and a shopping trip to collect a few last minute goods. After a good night sleep, we were ready to head out! We picked up Carol (But, we might have forgot our translator, whoops! He did meet up with us eventually) and headed to the town of San Cristobal and to the surrounding farm villages. Our first stop was a village clinic. The clinic was amazing and provided pre-natal/post-natal care, dental care, general medical care, and teacher educating training. We then headed into the village to follow-up on a sweet little girl from the last trip with osteogenesis imperfecta. Unfortunately, she has suffered a broken leg since our last trip and is very uncomfortable seated in any chair. We are hoping to head back to her house later in the trip with a new wheelchair or modifications that will make her more comfortable and aide in better breathing. Paige was able to educate her mother on ways to improve caloric intake. We were also able to see a 16-month-old little boy with hydrocephalus. We were able to educate the mother on positioning for neck and back strength and are planning to head back to their house with lighted and musical toys to help increase play time and interest.
Kelly and Nicole got to time travel back to their rehab days when we were asked to visit two of the local women’s husbands. A car hit one and the other was suffering from several mini strokes. There was lots of range of motion, positioning, and strengthening to be had!
We ended our day with the honor of attending the opening of a Manna Orphanage with a baby wing dedicated to Miss Quynh Harlan. We were able to witness her loving father, mother, and brother share her story and begin their journey of spreading God’s love and the love they have for Quynh to the orphans and residents of Guatemala. It was such a blessing and a great way to start our trip. We are looking forward to all God has in store for us as we are headed to many new places in hopes of building new connections and relationships.