Hey everyone! My name is Maddie Watts and I am one of the 2016 Eve Carson Scholars. I am currently in Trujillo, Peru, where I’ve been given the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people, practice my Spanish speaking skills, learn about the medical field and help provide healthcare to those who need it most here in Peru. I am working with a program called Hands on Peru, which I chose for two reasons. First of all, it gave me the opportunity to stay with a host family, which I feel is the best way to truly immerse oneself in the local culture. Secondly, Hands on Peru is as dedicated to bringing about a healthier Peru as it is to giving me a cool experience. A large portion of our program costs go to donating medical supplies, surgical tools, and medicines to several of the hospitals where we work. Additionally, at the end of our program we put on a free medical campaign for the people of the rural town of Otuzco. Take a look at some of the amazing things I’ve been able to do!
During the evenings, a young local doctor named Jose Niera has been coming to teach us about medical skills and common ailments in Peru in order to prepare us for working in the hospitals and at the medical campaign. Topics have ranged from giving vaccinations, chest and abdominal examinations, taking blood pressure, and medical Spanish. Immediately it was obvious to me that Dr. Jose Niera is passionate improving the health of his fellow Peruvians. His clinic is located in one of the most dangerous areas of town, and after long shifts he comes straight from work to teach us so that we can make the most impact during our time here. I am so incredibly grateful for all he has taught us, and his spirit has inspired me to be as compassionate and as giving of my time and knowledge in my future career.
At Hospital Florencia de Mora, I was given the opportunity to go with a medical resident named Julissa on a program called Padomi. Padomi is a service that brings medical care into the homes of elderly individuals that have trouble getting to the hospital. Julissa let me complete two of the forms on my own. My job was to ask the patient questions aimed at determining their mental sharpness, perform a depression screening and ascertain the individual’s dependency on their family members. Some individuals in our group didn’t love padomi because we weren’t using any of our medical skills, but I really enjoyed practicing my Spanish and getting to know the patients. One 97-year-old lady thanked me profusely for listening to her, as she said it had been so long since someone actually sat down and talked with her. It was a great lesson that sometimes all a patient really needs is someone to talk to!
The tiny taxi car we took around town for padomi and the sweet 97-year-old woman I talked with!
I have been given the opportunity to shadow and help in numerous different specialties – surgery, orthopedics, pediatrics, physical therapy, ultrasound to name a few. My taxi driver on my first day told that Peruvians are “muy agradables” (very friendly) and he was surely right! The doctors and nurses I’ve worked with have been so kind and have taught me so much. Now I can walk in to just about any hospital and have 3 people waving to me! Although some specialties are more hands on than others, I’ve enjoyed conversing with the patients and have found doing so is actually pretty useful to distract them from long physical therapy or painful shots.
Music Therapy for Children with Cerebral Palsy
By far one of my favorite things we’ve done! Several times a week we go to a woman named Rosa’s house, where a group of moms and their kids gather for music therapy. We each get paired with a child and their mom whom we stay with for the week. We sing songs, play games and help the children play musical instruments by putting our hands over theirs. The majority of these children cannot move their arms and legs (or atleast not much), and many have additional problems with vision, swallowing, speaking and other things. It is so wonderful to see their eyes light up when they make a sound on the instruments and to hear their shrieks of happiness when we swing them back and forth in a hammock. It is also incredible to see the dedication and love that these mothers pour into their children. While extremely rewarding, the therapy can also be exhausting for the mothers (or in this case, us). These children cannot sit up on their own, and holding them up in your lap and helping them control muscle spasms can be quite tiring. These moms and kids are true superheroes and I’m so thankful for getting to work with them!
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Coming up soon! I can’t wait to tell you guys about it in the next post.