I just returned from Guatemala and this year’s Interfaith Medical Service Project. This was my second year joining this group of amazing individuals, and my first year where we could bring students along with us. 

As I reflect back on our week in clinic I want to talk about one of the underlying concepts of this project. One of the biggest draws for me to this group of professionals is their faithfulness to the concept of sustainability.

Prior to going on this trip Dr. Stephanie talked to the group about sustainability and building capacity. She is a passionate and awesome speaker, but seeing is believing. You have to live it to know it. 

During our time in Guatemala this year I was able to educate the students on how we manifest our emotions and our worries, our stress in our physical bodies. I was able to show them how we, as healthcare providers, can help a person release those things in order to help improve their quality of life. I had the opportunity to work with Lisa to provide a child with some equipment that will help improve his ability to participate in activities with his family and at school. I worked with, and on, our team of professionals to provide the best care we could. With the help of Lisa, our OT, we started a relationship with an orthotist in Guatemala that will, hopefully, help to provide more needed equipment to the children in this community. I witnessed the profound love and pride a mother shows to her blind child, and encouraged her that her love and perseverance will make all the difference in his future. I witnessed as Dr. Lauri, Dr. Stephanie, and Dr. Chris facilitated a collaborative relationship with the University to support the community of Ciudad de Esperanza. 

But, perhaps most importantly, I spent hours teaching Esmé, the nurse who lives in Cobán and works throughout the year at the clinic. Esmé wanted to learn how she could better help her patients after we have gone back home. She spent precious time with me, learning how to feel for trigger points in the muscles and how to relieve them with pressure, how to listen to the response of the body and how to educate the patient. She practiced her technique and asked thoughtful questions.  

For me, this is the purpose of our time at Ciudad de la Esperanza. To educate, to collaborate, to foster relationships and build new ones. 

I hope the students are able to take in all that they observed and learned during this week into their futures and become better, more compassionate, holistic people - no matter what path they find themselves on. 

Deb Bauer, PT, DPT


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