Posts tagged #Los Pipitos

Featured Guest Blog: Centre College's Samantha Cook

An international relations major who is also on the pre-med track, Samantha Cook ’17 plans to go to medical school to become a pediatrician. Her biggest dream is to help underserved populations both domestically and abroad, and this summer she traveled to Nicaragua for an internship through the International Medical Relief of Children (FIMRC). After a full cultural immersion in Nicaragua, she has achieved proficiency in Spanish and has “fallen in love with NGO work.” She will continue her studies on the subject this fall through research involving the impact of stereotypes and tourism on the effectiveness of international medical NGOs.

I was a Summer International Health Fellow for Project Limón in Las Salinas, Nicaragua. My internship was through the Foundation for the International Medical Relief of Children (FIMRC), an international NGO dedicated to improving the conditions and care for children in developing countries. Long-term, I aspire to be a pediatrician. I want to be able to practice bilingually and continue to work abroad when possible, which is why practicing my Spanish in Nicaragua was so pertinent.

While I was there, I was given a smorgasbord of opportunities. Not only was I assisting with the six local projects FIMRC has established within the community—I also had to create and implement a sustainable project during my month-long fellowship. The project I chose was to revamp the Los Pipitos therapy center, which houses physical, occupational, learning and speech therapy for children. Nicaragua’s government provides the building for Los Pipitos, but particularly in small, rural communities, there are no trained therapists or full-time staff. The goal is for parents to use this facility to administer therapy and work with their child.

The major problems within Los Pipitos were limited direction and education for the therapy protocols, minimal organization and resources, and a lack of parental involvement. Three other interns and I focused our project on creating specific therapy profiles for each child (detailing a directed therapy protocol, evaluations to measure progress and notes on each particular child), traveling to a larger Los Pipitos center and receiving education on better therapy strategies and cleaning/organizing the center to make it more conducive to therapy.

Another key facet of my internship was the homestay experience. I lived with a local family who provided me with all of my meals every day, and they were an integral part of the cultural immersion I experienced throughout my internship. I became so close with my homestay family—they were kind, generous, and welcoming and constantly went out of their way to make me feel at home. For example, I was playing with my 6-year-old host niece who proceeded to ask if I liked the movie Frozen (her favorite movie), to which I replied, “Absolutely!” The next day when I came home from work, my family had borrowed the DVD from a cousin and set up a portable DVD player attached to their small TV. That night, we watched Frozen together as a family. All it took was a passing comment that I liked that movie for my family to make sure that we watched it together the next day. I truly felt treasured and loved, and I am still grateful and humbled to have been treated as a member of their family and community.

Posted on August 27, 2015 and filed under SIHF, Project Limón, Nicaragua.

#NicaNurses2015 - Marymount University Nurses

A group of nurses and faculty from Marymount University volunteered at Project Limón in Nicaragua for ten days at the beginning of August. They lent their nursing expertise and were able to get hands on experience with new skills learned at the Los Pipitos Developmental Group. Below is their entry from their blog, #NicaNurses2015.

Tuesday morning we had the chance to work with a group of children called “Los Pipitos.” Those “Niños” have different forms of conditions that result in developmental problems, such as Cerebral Palsy and Down’s Syndrome, and are in need of either physical therapy or occupational therapy. During our experience with that group, we did developmental assessments, physical therapy exercises, speech therapy, and fun activities that help with their issues; such as hopscotch, coloring, puzzles. Working with those kids gave us the opportunity to help them, as well as learn how to work with a variety of complications and improve our assessment skills. Speaking for the group, this was a touching and emotional experience for all of us, as the conditions of the kids had either been worsening or staying consistent over time according to their previous assessment charts.

Elian is a child with Down Syndrome who attends Los Pipitos. One of the facilitators told me that at the beginning of the program, Elian had barely any education, but he has made great strides in the few months he has been attending the center. Thanks to his time at Los Pipitos, Elian can now count up to 15, identify some colors, write some letters, and it is apparent that he loves coming to the clinic and learning. During out time together, we read books and played hopscotch number games, which he loved. Every time he got an answer right, he would beam with pride. As we worked on coloring, Elian showed me the picture he had painted all by himself. When I asked him who it was, he pointed excitedly to his Mickey Mouse backpack, and exclaimed, “Mickey!”. During our adventures coloring, he concentrated carefully as he succeeded in staying in the lines and choosing the colors he felt were appropriate. It was heartwarming to see the love of learning that he exuded throughout our lesson. The smile and wave he gave us as we dropped him off at home dispelled any doubts we may have had before working with Los Pipitos. This is a program worth working with, especially in a country where handicapped children are so underserved by the public sector.

Posted on August 19, 2015 and filed under FIMRC Stories, Project Limón, Nicaragua, GHVP, GHNF.

Summer International Health Fellowship : Project Limón

Project Limón had sixteen SIHF participants during June and July, each of the sixteen stayed with a host family for the month while they worked on individual projects (some for double sessions!) that will make a lasting impact on the communities surrounding Project Limón.

Similar to SIHF in Project Restauración, SIHFers were assigned a project that our staff felt met each Fellow's set of skills and interests. The participants worked closely with FOM Jessica and Volunteer Coordinator Anthony to get started on their projects. Our Summer International Health Fellows in Nicaragua are Katherine Hesketh, Xin Zhang, Daniel Weng, Ashley Martin, Laurel Spotton, Jessie Li, Samantha Cook, Kat Hoffman, Dena Ballouz, Jamie Dodge, Blaire Burstein, Kathryn Kaufmann, Michaela Kehoe, Jolie Blair, Lindsey Peragallo, and Brianna Mark. 

Below, you'll find a few of the projects from SIHF Nicaragua 2015!

Projects - Below Are The Descriptions Of Each Fellow's Project And The Processes Of Creating And Implementing Each Project

Los Pipitos Developmental Group

This project was taken on by Samantha Cooke, Katherine Hesketh, Jessie Li, & Laurel Spotton. The purpose of this project was to improve the therapeutic parameters at the Los Pipitos Developmental Group by expanding upon the knowledge of physical and learning disabilities in order to provide more targeted treatment for each child.  This group learned a lot about how developmental disabilities are perceived in Nicaraguan culture and were able to raise awareness of the program in outlying communities while accomplishing the goals of providing more targeted treatments.

First-Aid Classes

This project was taken on by Xin Zhang and Ashley Martin. The objective of this project was to implement a long term program that provides first-aid classes at parent-teacher meetings. The classes created were divided into three modules: how to properly clean cuts, how to treat burns, how to perform bystander CPR. The Fellows were able to teach First-Aid to 13 students and now the project is being passed on to FIMRC interns. In their final project, the interns said "Through this experience, we have both learned how important health literacy is for the health of a community. As future health professionals, our jobs do not end at treating a disease, but extends to teaching the public how to prevent diseases.".

Los Pipitos Activities

This project was taken on by Session II SIHFers Blaire Burstein, Kathryn Kaufmann, and Jolie Blair The goal of this project is to increase the number of hands on activities that both physically and mentally stimulate the kids at Los Pipitos. The group created different stimulating activities for those with Down Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy including art therapy, dance therapy, and aquatic therapy. The Fellows found that students were able to retain some identification of at least one more color or name when asked to identify either. Between the first session and the last session, using the evaluations, students were able to visually identify colors and verbally.

Posted on July 30, 2015 and filed under SIHF, Project Limón, Nicaragua.