Monday, August 9, 2010
Shoulder to Shoulder - Day 4
Today we got up at 4:30 to hike up to the cell phone tower. We were hoping to see the sunrise but there were too many rain clouds and on the hike up we got dumped on. Seriously dumped on, which was actually a little refreshing. It is pretty hot and humid here. After the hike we had a quick breakfast and then loaded up the supplies and drove the trucks to La Montana for a CHI. The Driving is quite an adventure. The roads are like something I would mountain bike on at home. Very steep, narrow, large, loose boulders. We road standing and hanging on in the back of the S2S trucks. It is funny, people always are surprised that you have to self fund your own volunteer trip (or find donations) but now I understand exactly why. The maintenance of the transportation alone is a huge expense. They have to replace the tires and various other parts on the vehicles very frequently. And who else would pay for this? The local people can hardly pay for their own food let alone medical visits. If it were not for donations, grant funding, a few amazing local doctors and nurses, and self funded volunteers then the families would probably just go without medical aid.
So today we went to a school. We saw all of the school children as well as several other local children that are younger then school age and live close enough for the mothers to walk them in. These mothers are amazing. They will walk for hours through the mountains with several very young children just for a chance to see the doctors. At the school we set up stations for measuring blood iron, height and weight, dental education, vision testing, de-worming medicine and pharmacy, and doctor consults. One mother walked with 4 girls. One is 11, one 6 and is deaf, one 3 that had a head injury which left her with partial left side paralysis, and one 11 month old nursing. And there was not the same element of self pity that you see in the US, it seemed like the attitude was just life is hard.
After the CHI a small group of us did home visits. We went to two houses of families that could not make it to the school. The first had a 10 year old girl who had a stroke when she was 5 that left her with both legs and her left arm paralyzed. They live, literally, on the side of a mountain so the little girl rarely can leave the house because she is not mobile. She had a wheel chair that had been fashioned out of a plastic yard chair and bike wheels. But really the chair just gets her around the one room house because the only access to their house is a rocky, steep, single track trail. I could not help but think that if she were in the US then access to physical therapy would be able to help her, maybe even learn to walk with some type of crutches, and completely change her life.
The second house was an eighty five year old couple. They were amazing. The type of older people that you know would have amazing life stories to share. They were about eighty five, and I say about because they were only able to guess at their own ages. The husband was on the side of the mountain picking corn when a cow knocked him down and his knee was bothering him. She had some general knee pain as well. We talked with them for a while and gave them some anti-inflammatory. I loved this couple.
On the drive home we had a little gravel road collapsing under us incident. With some strategic rock placement and pushing were were able to get the truck out of the ditch and back on the "road."
We decided to finish up an exciting day with a little hike on the way home to see the view of Santa Lucia below. It was beautiful.