Up to now I’ve only had pictures to post of our travelers’ hotel, the food they ate and some of the fun activities they’ve experienced. Due to patient confidentiality issues, the purpose of their trip – a service learning experience at an orphanage in Antigua, Guatemala – has been overlooked on this blog. Dr. Becky von der Heyde was kind enough to take pictures of our students interacting with the residents of Obras Sociales del Hermano Pedro that met the guidelines for patient confidentiality. Read Dr. Becky’s email below on their activities and how they organized the therapy sessions.
Greetings from Guatemala! We have had a fantastic trip…filled with fun, food, and friendship as you can tell from the posts and pictures thus far. So you’re probably wondering if we are actually working?! Well the answer is YES!
We have spent each morning at Obras Sociales de Hermano Pedro; an orphanage/ residential facility for people of all ages with moderate to severe disabilities. During our preparation this past semester, we split into 3 collaborative OT/MT groups to plan activities for the clients. This plan has worked well as we have split the morning into two halves and rotate throughout the facility. Each morning when we arrive, the early morning group of clients is waiting for us in La Escuela Especial (The Special School) and greet us with smiles, hugs, and “Hola! Buenos dias!” (Hello! Good morning!) The relationships we have created with the residents, especially in the school, are very special and I think that each of us is starting to realize how difficult it will be to leave on Friday.
One of our groups stays in the school for the early morning session while the two other groups rotate between the men, women, young men, and young women’s sections of the facility. Much of our time in these sections is spent on basic skills such as eye contact, appropriate touch, and social interaction. The benefits of music, sensory stimulation, and collaborative interventions for these clients cannot be understated. During the second half of the morning, another group rotates into the school and the remainder of our group heads into the children’s section. A few of our students have an opportunity to spend time in the nursery holding, feeding, and interacting with the babies. Many of the babies have cleft lip and and/or palate and are waiting for surgical teams to arrive.
One of the most cultural and inspiring activities we have participated in at Obras was taking the residents to church last Thursday. Each resident had their own place within the sanctuary and some had responsibilities during the mass. To hear the voices of the residents contribute in song at the beginning of the service was breathtaking at the very least. We have also been given the opportunity to educate psychology students from Guatemala City on both music and occupational therapy and offer our professional suggestions for the residents at Obras.
We appreciate your support and hope you enjoy the photos of our work!
Thanks to Dr. Becky for sending the pictures shown below (click on photo to enlarge):