Friday, May 3, 2013

After an incredible weekend of expeditions, the group jumped right back in to offering Antigua and the surrounding communities everything we could from PT services, to education, to in-services, to sometimes just a smile and helping hand when needed.  Some members of our team went to the Spanish School in the morning while others ventured back to Las Obras to work with patients and continue to collaborate with the Guatemalan staff.  The patients and other therapists continue to inspire and amaze us and we hope we are teaching them as much as they are teaching us!

After working with patients or on perfecting our spanish for a few hours, everyone (including our Guatemalan therapist friends) met up at Las Obras for lunch, an applicable inservice on managing depression in care facilities by Carly, and a great wound management presentation by Michelle and Tara.  We had a great lunch with delicious cakes to celebrate the ending of our time together!

In the afternoon, our group split up again with some people remaining at Las Obras to treat patients while others went to the nearby town of Pastores to present a health fair to this community.  Stations were similar to those that were presented at the health fair on Friday in Alotenango.  However, this time we were very fortunate to have a physician on site so that those individuals who were determined to have high blood pressure from our screenings could be referred to this physician and receive direct medical management!  We also had the opportunity to present the community with some charitable donations that we had brought from the US!

It was a such a great day and the community, patients, and staff have all been so welcoming and appreciative.  This trip has flown by but luckily we still have one more day in this beautiful country!

Monday, April 29, 2013

This morning we woke up bright and early again to visit the Mayan ruins in Iximche. We stopped for breakfast at a restaurant, Chichoy. The breakfast and coffee was incredible. We learned a ton about the history of the Mayans, and the traditions of the current Mayan people. Hugo, our tour guide, showed us the different structures within the village, which was abandoned in the early 1500s when the Spaniards invaded the village. We even had the opportunity to see a real Mayan healing ceremony. 

Next a group of us continued on to a ziplining tour over Lake Atitlan. We hiked about 30 minutes up the mountain Panajachel. Along the way we fed monkeys bananas. Groups in the past have done this, but this year, they had added 3 new zip lines which were longer and more extreme. There were seven zip lines that each of us rode down. No fatalities, but Paige did get stuck on the first line and had to have help to get the rest of the way across. It is difficult to put into words the experience of being so far above the ground with beautiful mountains and clear water. It was an amazing experience. After ziplining we had a late lunch at a local restaurant in Panajachel. It was wonderful.

Another group of us went to the Choco Museo and learned how to make different types of Mayan, Guatemalan and Spanish chocolate. We found out that the Mayans used to use Cacao beans as currency to trade with! We made our own molds of dark chocolate. Son deliciosos.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

 ¡Buenos días!

Today we woke up bright and early to climb one of 34 volcanos (4 active), called Pacaya. This is an active volcano and it's last devastating eruption was in 2010. The hike took about two hours and the scenery was breathtaking! When we reached the top, our guide Hugo made us sandwiches that were toasted over hot spots on the volcano. We also had a lot of fresh fruit including the BEST mango we've ever had!

When we began to head back down Pacaya, Hugo encouraged us to "ski" down the slopes. These were extremely steep but incredibly fun! After skiing down each section, we had to empty our shoes that were full of rocks. By the end of the hike we were all amazed at what we had accomplished!

In the afternoon, about half of us continued to the coffee farm called "As Green As It Gets." We began by walking out to the fields where they grow the coffee with two of the farmers and one translator. We learned there were four types of coffee plants that they grew there. We picked the berries off of the coffee plants that had the beans inside and tasted them too. Then we headed the farmer's house where they showed us how to pit the berries, roast, and grind the beans. Afterwards, we enjoyed a fresh cup of coffee that we made- which was the most flavorful cup of coffee we've tasted. They were all very welcoming and friendly, and we were grateful to have learned so much about what it takes to produce coffee.

¡Hasta pronto!

Friday, April 26, 2013

¡Hola Amigos!

Yesterday all of the students were put into separate groups for both the morning and the afternoon. A few went back to the language school to continue improving their spanish while other students were split among the different areas in Las Obras (the hospital). Groups of students were able to work in a pediatric section, with the young adults or the older adults. Students and therapists alike were able to communicate and work alongside the Guatemalan therapists as they treated the patients.

In the afternoon, a group of students and therapists took taxis to a nearby town, San Juan Alotenango, where there is a school for children with disabilities. The school's name is Enseñame a Pescar (Teach me how to fish). There we were able to participate in a health fair for the community. There were four stations on topics including caring for the low back, nutrition, sanitation and hand-washing, and blood pressure. We had no idea what to expect, but we ended up having 89 men, women, and children come to learn more about living a healthy lifestyle! It was an amazing experience and the Guatemalans were so receptive to the information and resources we had for them! All of us received so many besos (kisses) on the cheek by the end of the fair!!

Today all of the students were again split into groups that went to the language school and the hospital. It is amazing how much our spanish has improved in only two days! When people say immersing yourself in the culture is the best way to learn the language, they were not kidding! It is very nice that we learn more in the language school and then are able to directly apply our skills when working with patients, other therapists, and even when tying to barter with the merchants in the market! Also, today Christina was able to present her capstone about Down Syndrome to a large group including the students, the leadership team, and staff and therapists from Las Obras. She was able to give information about the pathologies associated with Down Syndrome along with specific physical therapy techniques to help improve the health, wellness and quality of life of these patients. Other students this afternoon were able to return to the school to work with kids from the local community with disabilities.


Tomorrow a large portion of the group is headed out to one of the local volcanoes. We will be sure to take many, many beautiful pictures! Other students will be touring Antigua, learning how Guatemalan coffee is made, or learning more about Guatemalan culture.

(Hello everyone!)

DAY 1 and 2

We made it! Sorry for the delay on starting the blog, we’ve had access problems, but we are now up and running! We have had an amazing first two days here in Antigua, starting with the most beautiful accommodations!

The first day we toured Antigua and saw the city square, visited the markets, mingled with locals and learned our way around the city. We topped off a wonderful first day at Café Condesa to celebrate Megan’s birthday.

Day two started with some students going to Las Obras to meet the staff, orient and start working with patients. Students and faculty worked in pediatric, young adult and older adult units of 250 people side by side with Guatemalan physical therapists and physical therapist students. Students arriving to Las Obras in the afternoon were in for a special surprise. It was the Day of Santo Hermano Pedro, the patron saint of Las Obras. Students and members of leadership team participated in the parade through the hospital by assisting residents with wheelchair mobility. The celebration continued in the great hall with music, skits and us assisting residents and patients enjoy pastry and refreshment. It is amazing how the staff can do so much with the limited resources that they have and how much they are needed and appreciated.

In addition to spending time at Las Obras everyone also got a chance to hablan español (speak Spanish) at the language school. Students practiced for 3 hours in small groups and found it very beneficial. After, a few students treked to nearby Pastores (were the rural clinic is located) to shop for cowboy boots. The store owners measured each person's feet individually and students were able to design their own style! Que bien!

We are off to a great start!
Thanks for following us so far! Now that we are up and running more entries will be coming soon!!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

¡Adios Amigos!

Thank you so very much for your support of the 2012 UNC PT Outreach service learning trip to Guatemala! We have been on an amazing adventure full of life lessons and experiences we will remember forever! Over the course of our eight day trip our team provided seven educational presentations to the therapists of Las Obras, educators and families of Ensename a Pescar, and the health care providers and patients of Clinicas Medicas San Jose. Forty pairs of shoes were donated to the rural health clinic Clinicas Medicas San Jose. And heaping piles of notebooks, pencils, Spanish language workbooks, flashcards, crayons, and even more school supplies were donated to Ensename a Pescar, the school for children with disabilities. The UNC PT Outreach team gained a rich appreciation of the Guatemalan culture on a community tour of homes, a trip to visit local farms, eating traditional Guatemalan foods, shopping in the local markets, and through our communication with the local Guatemalan people. We greatly appreciate all that you have done to support this trip and learning experience!  We hope that you will be inspired to reach out to help in your own community or consider supporting the 2013 UNC PT Outreach Trip!

Until next year, adios amigos!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hola family and friends.  Our last day Guatemala was an awesome experience.  It began with treatment of pediatric patients.  The student were split into 4 groups and worked with patients with various complexities.

Following that experience, there was a break where students sought to pick up last minute souvenirs and gifts for themselves and loved ones.  The group reconvened at 2 o'clock and prepared for a fun-filled day at the Central Square with selected patients.  Patients from the pediatric, young adult, and geriatric sections were gathered and escorted to the Central Square.  Upon arrival, the patients were given icecream and entertained with song and dance by the Outreach team.  Some patients even joined in during the "Hokie Pokie" dance!

The Central Square was full of excitement with a Guatemalan "clown" performing various acts and tricks.  The patients grinned from ear to ear during the performance and seemed very grateful for the experience.  The social outing finished with a trip to the local church.  Goodbyes were tough for both the patients and the Outreach team.  The impact on the patients' spirits were evident, but the even bigger impact was the one they made on us.  We all leave Guatemala in high spirits and hopeful that our trip was meaningful!