By Andrew Suseno
In our final advanced round of workshops Rosa, Gretchen and I were honored to be joined by Alejandro Aldana Solares, a physiotherapist from Guatemala who traveled to Tipitapa especially to share his training with local communities. Alejandro quickly integrated into the curriculum and took on a leadership role which would guide the community rehabilitation teams beyond this weekend.
Thanks to a successful meeting with the director of the Tipitapa hospital and a very supportive Director from the Ministry of Health, we were able to schedule a fourth workshop in Tipitapa while I was still in Nicaragua. The Director commented that my method of teaching was unique and that she wanted her educators to learn how to palpate, stretch and exercise muscles, evaluate children and learn my pedagogy. They would be joining us in our final “talleres”.
The workshop in the center of Tipitapa went very smoothly. Challenges were presented on how to turn a box which could be stood upon into a balance board or balance chair, and participants were tested on the joints of the body to figure out how best to help a child with cerebral palsy to stand up. Five participants in this workshop also attended the Advanced Workshop as per the request of the Director of the Ministry of Health, along with 20 others from Ciudadela and San Benito. Here we focused on reviewing rehabilitation skills, working in rehab teams and the construction of four pieces of adaptive equipment for children in their communities. By the end of the day, I could feel that the educators were hungry for more and participants were super charged, ready to continue developing their skills, and ready to work in teams to make a difference in the communities.
I am so grateful and appreciative to the donors, the Dos Pueblos staff, Alejandro, and the open hearts of all 70+ family members and educators who attended these workshops. I drew such joy from feeling their sense of accomplishment and empowerment, and their new understanding in being able to evaluate and treat another person through the construction of beautiful, functional and specific adaptive equipment. I am looking forward to supporting and building this project. Since we were able to raise above our minimum target, we have resources to support Alejandro in teaching more “talleres” in the months to come. We also discovered several leaders in the community ready to stand up for the underserved or unseen, and ready to make well-being and quality of life for all in the community something to fight for.