We made it! After a long and quite turbulent flight (“a few bumps” as per the captain) we landed soundly in Guatemala. The usual and customary practice of breath-holding and lengthy back and forth ensued with the customs until finally receiving their blessing to pass. We left the airport intact and including the five large cardboard boxes containing the, mostly willingly, donated accessories for the wheelchairs from Val Warren’s contacts in California
We a small 9-person team but each person brings expertise, enthusiasm and the compassionate desire to help all who seek our attention and make this pilot mobility clinic a success. We have 3 physical therapists, Sarah, Ira and Val; our wound care nurse Kerstin; our pastor Judy: BJ and Jesus our wheelchair assemblers. We are led by capable and experienced Laura Rodriguez and are very thankful to have Josue and Krystal be our administrative and clinical directors.
We leave at 5 am in the morning for our 6-8 hour sojourn to Chicaman and El Quiche which lies in the center of Guatemala. No Faith In Practice or Providence team has ever gone here before. Expectations are high for having approximately 35-40 patients per day which will put us all to the test. Each patient must be evaluated by the physician followed by a discussion with the PT (therapist). The patient is further evaluated by the PT and the wheelchair is built. The therapist must then fit the patient to the chair and make any necessary adjustments using padding etc. The patient and family must be instructed as to the use and care of the chair, etc. All this takes about 30 minutes so it will likely be a long but rewarding day.
Our theme for the trip is borrowed from the Providence mission statement - Ease my Way. It is very appropriate for a mobility clinic. We can almost see Him with his arms out pointing with one hand to the patients being brought in by their relatives, many carried on plastic chairs – some on stretchers – many with make-shift canes made from sticks. All hoping for help and then chance of mobility; of independence. The other hand points to us. He has a look on His face that is both stern and compassionate. There is no mistaking His intention and direction for us. We can’t wait to get started and do as He asks.
By Dr. Joseph Austin