One Year. One Physical Therapist in Trujillo, Peru.

Combining passions of global public health with travel and cultural immersion... With the help of the Catholic Medical Mission Board, I was afforded the opportunity to live outside of Trujillo, Peru for one year's time (2010-2011). Check out old posts about my experiences as a PT working in hospitals, a school, an outpatient clinic, doing research/community based rehabilitation, and a little teaching too. And my experiences with an entire calendar year of holidays, cultural customs and new culinary experiences!

I make it back about once a year with university students/CMMB projects, so I will periodically provide updates :)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Back to the Basics

It's been an interesting transition in the last year from life in Peru to life in the US. I feel like I finally got used to our own culture again, when all of a sudden, it was August - time to go back to Peru! I was overjoyed to return to my "second home" and felt much more comfortable this time around with the re-insertion into Peruvian culture - the simple life, or "back to the basics."

The return trip was anything but basic, though - it was more of a two and a half weeks jam-packed with activities and little sleep! (Just the way I like it...) The first few days were filled with emotional reunions with family and friends, plus meetings and preparation for the conference and the Regis group activities. I met the 5 Regis students and professor Nancy Mulligan in Lima, where we began with touring a local hospital and rehabilitation center and met with Dr. Leon and staff at the Peru Ministry of Health.

One overnight bus later, we were touring the Bellavista health outpost and had a very memorable lunch with the focus group "Asumiendo con Esperanza," a group of mothers of children who have disabilities. That evening, Claudia gave us a wonderful welcome dinner and shared her incredible story of how she ended up in Peru. We spent the next day teaming with PT's/PTA's at Hospital Albrecht in outpatient care, and meeting with the director of a local university to make an official partnership with the potential to set up future clinical rotations and student exchanges between ALAS Peruanas and Regis University! The following day we had one-on-one sessions with children in the community, performing initial evaluations and wheelchair fittings, and prepared for the conference.

The 2-day continuing education conference included two separate themes, stroke and cerebral palsy, and featured leaders Ana Herrera, Cindy Potter, and Sarah Ingram, who did a fantastic job in lectures and lab with actual patients! The event's cocktail reception and networking lunches were also a lot of fun!

The following week we jumped right into work with CMMB's project "Rehabilitation con Esperanza," where the group performed home visits and led workshops for caregivers and community agents. Visits to Huanchaco beach for ceviche and surfing, plus a trip to see the local pyramids, gave the group some much needed r+r to finish out the trip! And on our last day we had a pool party for the kids in the project - a day I will never forget!

I can't thank CMMB, Regis University, and my Peruvian focus group enough for making this trip possible! It's very challenging to make a short-term mission trip something that is centered in sustainability and in helping vs. hurting, social justice vs. charity. The continued strengthening of partnerships with local organizations gives me hope that this trip will be something that is bi-annual, self-sustaining, and always with the needs of the community at its heart.

Feeling very blessed to have the opportunity to return to Peru - and the daily duality of two distinct cultures impacting my life. Thrilled to have a few weeks of "back to the basics" - although I won't lie, I was extremely close to "missing" my flight and staying down in Peru for another year!

I recently heard the following quote...

I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve. -Albert Schweitzer

I think that any of our volunteers this year -an amazing group- will attest that this is so true, and I hope that whoever reads this will consider coming down with us next year - or find some other way to get involved in global health! Until next August - Te Amo Perú! Siempre Contigo!

Hospital Loayza - Lima

Instituto Nacional de Rehabilitación - Lima

Perú Ministry of Health - Lima
Health Outpost- Bellavista
Support group: Asumiendo con Esperanza
patient care at Hospital Albrecht - Trujillo
Forming new alliances - with Universidad ALAS Peruanas
PT session with the kids!
Getting creative to transport conference materials!
Segunda Conferencia Internacional de Actualización en Terapia Fisica: Avances en Condiciones Neurologicos
we made the paper!
Cindy's group: Cerebral Palsy
Saturday evening reception with conference participants

Sarah and Ana's group: Stroke
networking luncheon
view of Sector Bellavista, La Esperanza - home of the community based rehab project
with CMMB leaders
home visits!

Pool party!!


Day off: let's go surfing!
Manipulations around the World: Huaca de la Luna!
with the Hermanas del Buen Soccorro who graciously housed us!