Friday, May 1, 2015

Day 9 - April 29, 2015

Our time here in Guatemala has been nothing short of amazing. Really there are no words to adequately describe our experiences here. We have all experienced personal growth and professional growth as future physical therapists. While we were able to serve the people of Guatemala, Guatemala has also provided us with invaluable experiences and memories that we will carry with us for a lifetime. 

Thank you to everyone that helped make this service-learning trip possible and thank you to our friends in Guatemala who welcomed us with open arms and made us feel at home.

¡Hasta Luego!

~ Gary Johnson, Joe Miller, Sabina Beckler, Deidra Debnam, and Jessica Skeeter 


G5 with 3 of our leadership team members (Cathy Howes, Lisa Johnston, and Darcy Cooper) in front of Las Obras 

G5 looking over Antigua from Cerro de la Cruz (Hill of the Cross)


Day 8 - April 28, 2015

¡Adiós Guatemala, hasta que te vea de nuevo! (Until I see you again!)

Today is our final clinical day in Guatemala! We have enjoyed our time here, and we’ll leave with many fond memories of this beautiful country!

G5 started the morning working with Las Obras physical therapists. Sabina and Jessica worked in the nursery during the early hours of the morning. After spending time with Las Obras youngest patients, Sabina collaborated with Las Obras physical therapists in pediatrics, while Jessica worked in young adults. Jessica identified many contracture and movement-discrepancy similarities between pediatric patients and young adults at Las Obras. Deidra spent the morning working in Pediatrics, and increased her clinical skills in pediatric handling techniques, as well as wheelchair assessment. Joe had an interesting situation happen while working in older adults. Upon discovering Joe spoke English, a patient became nervous and placed a handkerchief over her face. Joe used his clinical skills to reassure the patient, and she began to relax and open up more. Treating in collaboration with Las Obras physical therapists, Joe helped facilitate improvement in many older adult patient’s trunk control, coordination and walking. Gary rounded out the morning in orthopedics, treating mostly low-back pain at Las Obras outpatient physical therapy clinic.

Before lunch, UNC physical therapist Cathy Howes presented to Las Obras physical therapy staff and students on handling and positioning techniques in the pediatric physical therapy setting. After Cathy’s presentation, Las Obras physical therapy staff and students took pictures with the UNC physical therapy group, and all shared in a delicious lunch from Rincon Tipico. Solemn goodbyes were said to the marvelous and dedicated physical therapy staff of Las Obras, it was an honor working side-by-side with such outstanding therapists. We will miss you guys!!

Las Obras PT's and students with the UNC PT group - ¡Buenos Amigos!

In the afternoon, G5 worked their final health fair at “Escuela Oficial Urbana de Ninas Leonor Rosales Vda. de Ramirez” in Santa Maria de Jesus, Guatemala. 

Escuela Oficial Urbana de Ninas Leonor Rosales Vda. de Ramirez” in Santa Maria de Jesus, Guatemala

Deidra continued her work at the nutrition station teaching individuals the importance of a balanced diet; she also gave out over 100 apples and 30 peaches! Sabina continued her discussions and demonstrations with soon-to-be and existing mothers, and discussed things such as proper infant positioning and swaddling. Joe taught individuals the importance of cleaning their vegetables and fruits properly, NOT sharing combs, and the correct way to wash their hands. Joe’s afternoon was highlighted by teaching the hand washing song (designed for children) to a group of adult male laborers! Leadership team member and UNC-DPT alum Darcy Cooper manned the back pain station.  She did an excellent job instructing and demonstrating techniques to health fair attendees on how to prevent and treat dolor de espalda (back pain). Jessica took blood pressure readings from the health fair participants, and discussed ways to reduce high blood pressure. Jessica really got to work on her Spanish speaking skills, as her station was one of the more popular destinations of the health fair attendees. When Jessica ran out of handouts, our excursion leader and overall wonderful Guatemalan tour guide Hugo came to the rescue and printed more.

Deidra discussing the benefits of a balanced healthy diet.

Joe teaching hygiene and food cleaning.

Jessica was moved when a women personally thanked her and the group for coming to Guatemala to work with their community. The women stated the information we were teaching was very much needed (especially by the women) in their community. G5 estimates around 130+ individuals were in attendance at this health fair, it is an awesome feeling to know we have touched so many lives in a positive way during our time in Guatemala!!

Our evening ended with a delicious dinner with our 2 translators Eduardo and Iris, and of course, the man himself, Hugo! We discovered Iris created hand made bracelets, and she gifted one to each of us for free!

Adiós Guatemala!! We have learned so much and enjoyed our time here immensely!! Until we meet again, ¡un brindis a su salud! (A toast to your health!)

¡Adiós from G5!

Written By: Gary Johnson