Friday, August 7, 2015
Today's presentations were a success in our book. Two trainings were provided (same presentation twice) to the foster moms, nannies, directors, etc. from Hope of Life. We spoke to 35 attendees in the morning, and 15 in the afternoon. They fully participated, asked great questions, and were incredibly grateful for the resources and donations they received. The baby rescue that Trisha and Abby participated in was incredibly impactful. They haven't given much detail as they are still processing, but the little girl was 22 months, hadn't had water or food in 3 days, and almost died in Trisha's arms. She was in such a state of malnutrition that they weren't even able to get her back to Hope of Life, but took her to a hospital that could get an IV started. The doctors don't understand how she is still alive. Pray for this little one and her family! The Taylor girls were a big help today in relieving nannies so they could attend the training. Kudos to them! We had at least 90% of the team cry during our debriefing meeting tonight, so I call it a successful trip overall. We are now packing and getting ready for a 7am bus ride to the airport. See you stateside! Much love to all of our financial supporters and prayer warriors. We couldn't have done it without you! You keep us, and others, alive- both figuratively and literally. Muchos gracias amigos!
Thursday, August 6, 2015
Let's be honest. By Thursday, team members are exhausted, translators are exhausted, and the children are exhausted. We have given our all, and the children have worked HARD the last few days. Today was a day to keep the momentum and progress going from yesterday. Kimberly, the aqua therapist, was able to see some children three times this week. A highlight from today was having a teenage boy walk independently from the pool back to the bus- approximately 20 yards! At the beginning of the week, he was only walking with assistance. PT's continued to encourage mobility, and OT's trained the resident therapist on everything there was to do at Kelly's House. The parents at the nutrition center enjoyed a mommy and me music group lead by Bessie, a language training from Lorena, adult massage from Angie, and a bible study from Jim. The social worker was able to get into the school to observe some kiddos in their class- this was eye opening to her. She communicated to the parents about her observations to hopefully ignite some positive changes. The SLP consulted with the Special Educator today, helping to problem solve and strategize some ways to assist special learners. Abby and Trisha have been selected to go on a baby rescue mission tomorrow (which is incredible). They will be gone from approximately 8am to 1pm. They will be traveling to a village where a child has been identified as critically malnourished, and transporting them back to Hope of Life in the ambulance. Please pray for them and the child. Training tomorrow for all staff at Hope of Life! We're finishing strong!
Wednesday, August 5, 2015
Today was a whirlwind of a day. Therapists went to work in the morning at their respective locations, followed by a quick lunch and a trip to the local dump. Mothers with their children work in the dump, collecting recyclables to make money. Hope of Life brings lunch to these families on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons, and encourages their volunteers to serve the food. They believe the short trip is necessary for visiting missionaries to see the reality of what is happening in the country outside the walls of Hope of Life. After our return trip and a required shower, the team went right back to work! The Village of Transformation team was able to meet with the director of the program in the morning. She talked about a few children in her care that she struggled with, and the team gave her some strategies to tackle the problems at hand. The relief on her face proved that she felt more confident in what she needed to do. The afternoon was spent observing the special education classroom and teacher. We observed some of the children we talked about with parents yesterday, and communicated with the teacher about her perspective on things. She is greatly looking forward to the training we have on Friday. Ben and Michael spent time today fixing and adjusting more wheelchairs to best fit the children at Kelly's House. One child in particular quickly went from slouching to sitting up straight and proper after a wheelchair adjustment. The Kelly's House team also stayed late to assist with and observe feeding. The nannies were incredibly excited for this because the majority of the children were using universal cuffs or adaptive spoons to self feed! In two days 7 or 8 children went from being fed to being able to gain some independence and feed themselves! (This is HUGE!) This also transferred to brushing their teeth. Also huge, as almost all of these children have tooth decay from poor oral hygiene. The team at the nutrition center was able to provide faster mobility for two students. Using scooter boards, these children were able to independently navigate around the room and facility. Yesterday, they were able to get the toddlers out of their room and up two levels, simply to get them used to the idea and for exploration. Today, the children not only left, but participated in a large group music therapy session for a longer period of time! Abby was awesome at entertaining the siblings while therapy and infant massage was occurring. Kimberly was able to get kids in the water and train someone to do what she does once she leaves. Tomorrow is our last day of working hands on with the children. We can't believe how fast it's gone, and how much more work we see needs to be done. However, we are thrilled with the progress that we are seeing so far!
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
I can't communicate everything that the amazing BRIGHT team did today, but I will certainly try and communicate the highlights. First, Kimberly was able to take NINETEEN children in the pool today, in cooperation with the resident therapist (this is huge). The therapist expressed interest in learning the water therapy techniques and is bringing her swim suit tomorrow. Kimberly's highlight of the pool was taking a 23 year old with severe Cerebral Palsy into the water and having him initiate rolling over in the water. He cannot currently reposition himself in bed, so this was a fantastic start. The team at Kelly's House was able to train nannies on assistive devices for feeding, get kids walking that surprised the nannies, talk with the resident therapist, and co-treat to maximize the therapeutic value for the children. OT Amy was able to speak with the nannies, asking them if they felt they could implement the equipment and techniques. They not only felt confident in this, but correctly identified which children would benefit from such devices. PT Michael got a fourteen year-old girl walking who was just rescued a month ago (due to malnutrition) and is the size of a 7 year old. The nannies couldn't believe she was walking with minimal assistance. Lorena SLP was intentionally sought out by the resident therapist to consult about some children at Kelly's House. The therapists at the nutrition center spent the majority of the day doing infant massage training with moms and their infants. So many moms were interested that they left their other stations and joined out of fear of missing their opportunity to participate. In the infant massage training, there were also opportunities to talk to the mothers about feeding, bonding, and language. The afternoon also included a revolutionary play group, where the toddlers actually left their cribs and walked to a separate room with a floor mat, an inflatable kiddie pool with balls and toys, a tunnel, a parachute, and some low tables with toys. The therapists serving families went to Safe Haven Village and The Village of Transformation today. The morning was spent following up with yesterday's families, while the afternoon was spent interviewing three more mom's about the challenges they are facing in raising their children. Tina was able to give some great advice on feeding schedules and allowing the child to have some control. Jim was incredibly encouraging for the parents, and Amy SpEd & Megan OT were able to co-treat and problem solve some of the issues discussed. Shout out to our awesome translators, Michaell and Harvey, and our photographer, Ben. He spent the morning adjusting equipment at Kelly's House, and the afternoon taking pictures. Check them out on our facebook page!
Monday, August 3, 2015
The plan of action for today was to divide and conquer. We spent time in four different areas of the compound simultaneously. Kelly's House, the home for children with special needs, had Bessie the Music Therapist, Michael the PT, along with Caitlin and Abby (assistance), Lorena the SLP, Amy S. the OT, Kimberly the aqua therapist, and Harvey our awesome translator. Angie and Trisha, infant educators, Ronit the SLP, and Pam the PT camped out at the nutrition center. Amy O. the special educator, Megan the OT along with Lindsey, Tina the social worker, Jim the encourager, and Michaell the translator spent time at Safe Haven Village. Ben walked down a mountain with his camera (spent time in each area today). The therapists at Kelly's House spent the day assessing and creating rapport with the nannies. The ones working at the nutrition center assessed, talked with interested parents, and had a visionary meeting about how to propel the nutrition center into a better, more therapeutic, facility. There were three families at the Safe Haven Village that were served today. In the morning, the parents had the opportunity to sit down with the therapists and share their concerns about the emotional, mental, and educational progress of their biological and foster children. The afternoon was spent working with the identified children and educating the parents on ways to help their children. We have a game plan for tomorrow, and are looking forward to continuing what was started today. Check facebook for a few great photos from our photographer.
Signing on from Guatemala! All travel plans ran smoothly on Friday and Saturday. After arriving in Guatemala city around 11pm on Friday, we headed to Hotel Barcelo and had a good night’s sleep. Saturday was spent traveling from Guatemala city to Zacapa and Hope of Life. The team was able to settle in, eat dinner, and swim before heading to bed. Sunday morning brought church with the local Guatemalans in a breezy outdoor venue. A kind man translated the service for the “gringos” into English. After lunch, we took a guided tour around the 3,000 acre compound that makes up Hope of Life. We visited an elderly care home, warehouses to feed the locals and sell good to sustain the mission, Kelly’s house (a home for children with disabilities), the Village of Transformation (family style orphan care), and St. Luke’s nutrition center. This gave us a glimpse into what we will be seeing and working with this coming week. The next two hours was spent unpacking and redistributing our 850 pounds of donations. Each speciality found their respective donations and collected them into their own suitcase. After dinner, we spent time as a team discussion our plan of action for Monday and who would serve where. Everyone is going to bed tonight with assignments, donations, and anticipation for what the week will bring. Looking forward to what tomorrow brings...