Ann Sullivan Guatemala, our first volunteer location, is a community center providing services to young people with disabilities. Approximately six years ago, they started providing sessions to increase the independence of children with disabilities. As they have been growing, they have become involved with the Ann Sullivan center in Lima, Peru, latching onto their programs. Thus, the Guatemalan center is able to receive their curriculum ideas, supports, and continuing education.
So, what really goes on? In the morning, between 5 and 10 kids come for what is effectively a half-day of school. The school is based on the Ann Sullivan curriculum. Everything is functional, a lot of pictures are used, and kids maintain a routine. In the afternoon, kids come for one-hour one-on-one or two-on-one skill building sessions with their specialists. These sessions target whatever the kid needs, ranging from improving gross motor (through play) to improving fine motor (through writing activities) skills.
So, what have we been doing? Well, we wake up at 5:15 every morning! We drive through shockingly bad traffic to arrive at the center between 6:15 and 6:30. Conveniently, the center is a transformed house, so it is equipped with showers and all the house fixings (it serves as a second house in the city for our host family). For the first hour or two of the day we do some combination of the following: run (three times a week), read, write a blog, dream about a real cup of coffee (Joe, every morning), unsuccessfully try to access the internet, shower, and eat. After the specialists arrive and everyone has completed the hugs and kisses welcoming routine, we begin the slow and arduous process of changing the world. Our mornings are spent painting, constructing a wheelchair ramp, making potential adaptive devices, and helping as needed. In the afternoons, Joe performs more manual labor or he reads, and Juleen switches to assisting in treating kids and providing potential suggestions. While she doesn’t feel like she is revolutionizing the services being provided, she has provided some good OT 101 suggestions, as none of the specialists are trained therapists. At the end of the day, we drive home in shockingly bad traffic, arriving home around 7:30. After a light dinner, we start heading to bed.
But don’t worry much about our taxing days, as we are moving onward and forward Saturday.
Pictures are the following: upstairs roof before, indoor patio before, inaguration of the wheelchair ramp (the ramp did not get completed as easily as it might appear), upstairs roof after, and indoor patio after.