Clinic Day 1
Today’s day in therapy presented a lot of challenges. Equipment and supplies are nothing like they are in the states. We had a young girl who was unable to walk and had bad contractions. She needed a wheelchair and unfortunately we didn’t have any. So with the help of several locals and the therapy team, a “street car sling” was created out of supplies we had available including a walker, extra wheels, potato sack, pool noodles, pvc pipe, and duct tape. The mother of the young girl was able to push her in the new device. Other successful moments in therapy today was giving out 30-40 pairs of shoes for patients and stretches with exercises for multiple ailments.
The amount of gratitude from each person today was indescribable. Gratitude can easily be forgotten in everyday life. However, seeing the faces of pure love and excitement to receive care reminded me why God sent us here. This all couldn’t be possible without the great team, interpreters, staff, and everyone who has helped on this journey.
+ Ashley Hupp, Occupational Therapist
Well… today I made my first make shift wheelchair- something I thought I’d never do. Today when we drove up to our site, this young girl was waiting for us on the porch -hips and knees flexed to her chest and legs as skinny as could be – she has cerebral palsy – a developmental disease which causes deformity and may inhibit a person from walking. This family had traveled from a far village for one thing “we just want a wheelchair”. Her family carries her everywhere they go.
Being that we’ve never made a wheelchair and we had no formal supplies or tools, we were a bit intimidated. Our creative OT brains were put to the test… Ashley Hupp managed to find a walker and we hammered holes in the bottom so we could add wheels. Our supplies were a wheelchair footrest and a rusty nail. Jimmy our helper went into town to get a canopy sewn so that the girl could sit in the suspended canopy. I found a leg brace that I reformed into a back support and a back brace pad as the seat. We repositioned the canopy to position her pelvis, cut and taped pool noodles as lateral supports and Shauna and I added a pvc pipe to prevent her from falling forward. It was a makeshift wheelchair indeed but once fitted- her family no longer had to carry her.
I’m trying to process this experience as best I can but all I can say is I feel humbled. I forget how easy it is for me to have access to any resource I need – how easy it is for me to be wasteful. This family traveled just for our humble attempts at a wheelchair – and I feel that there has been a sweet exchange between my world and theirs.
There’s something beautiful about making something out of nothing. In the hospital world, it’s so easy to feel constricted in a controlled environment – where everything needs to be regimented (for good reason!). I find it easy for me to slip into routine, rather than attend to the immediate need in an innovative and unique way. In this environment, we often have no choice but to be creative with what is available. This thought is compelling to me – because it reminds me of what the Lord does in me everyday. He makes beautiful things out of my life – no matter how flawed and broken I am – He loves to make a beautiful story out of it. Having the chance to be creative I feel allows me to experience a taste of what the Lord must feel when He finds a way to rewrite my story whispering “no – this is not the end – this is only the beginning”. I don’t know what it all means yet – but I’m carrying those images and words in my heart this evening… This is just the beginning..
+ Clara Wright, Occupational Therapist