My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for Push International, Woodinville, WA, USA
My experience in Mexico was life altering and I feel that no words poetic enough to accurately convey how it felt to help the people of Mexico. It made me realize that you need to experience it for yourself. The life we live in the U.S. is not indicative of how the rest of the world lives. It makes me appreciate the fact that we have access health care and we can receive the services we need early enough to prevent severe complications and deformities. So much of the world does not have that privilege. This trip was eye opening. The community has minimal to no handicapped accessibility. It is evident that having a disability is not as acceptable in Mexico. People are often hidden away, in fact… forced to stay in their homes because of lack of mobility equipment and lack of public accessibility.
We spent a couple days seeing the community and its accessibility issues as well as visiting some local homes. This helped tremendously to understand the difficulties Mexicans face while ambulating in a wheelchair or with a walker. Many roads are rocks and uneven. It is not uncommon for homes to have dirt floors. Push International had some commodes and shower chairs to donate to people, however, some people did not even have showers or toilets.
During the mornings and early afternoons, when we were not distributing wheelchairs, we delivered occupational therapy services to the children with disabilities at Padres y Compadres. It was an incredible learning experience. Not only was I able to apply principles I have been learning in school and get hands-on practice, I was also able to teach the parents and “therapists” in Mexico some techniques so that they could continue to treat the children once we were gone. I drove an adapted vehicle with hand controls for a person in a wheelchair to drive. I played soccer with Mexican children on the beach and raced wheelchairs in the neighborhood. We fed the children with disabilities lunch. In the evenings, we would distribute wheelchairs to the community. Wheelchair distributions were the best part of my day. It took some creative thinking and mechanical skill to assemble each wheelchair with random pieces that were donated from the States, and then try to custom fit each wheelchair to the recipient so that they had a correct fitting. We were challenged to solve problems that we had not faced before as OT students, and work together as a team to get the job done. We assembled and distributed a total of 98 pieces of mobility equipment to recipients who were in great need... helping Push International meet their milestone of 1000 recipients!
The most amazing moment of the trip was when I worked with two other occupational therapy (OT) students to fit a woman, about my age, with a wheelchair. She lived 600 miles away from the Padres y Compadres campus, but came down on a bus with her mother so that she could receive her first wheelchair. She had Cerebral Palsy and spent most hours of the day in bed because she otherwise depended on her mom to carry her everywhere. She had the worst case of Scoliosis I have ever seen. We spent over two hours assembling her a good-fitting chair. We custom-made a backrest with foam that fit the contour of her back. By the time we were finished, a stranger passing by on the street would not even be able to tell she had such a deformity because the fitting was done well enough to almost hide it. It was great to be able to give this young woman a little bit of confidence.
Thank you so much Push for giving me this opportunity to learn, to meet some amazing people, to become involved in an amazing organization, and to help others. I loved it!