So this week got a little busy.......
On Saturday Laura (founder of Therapies Unite) and Amy and Angharad (physio students recently qualified from Keele University) arrived so we went to the beach (again!!) but this time we ventured out of Puerto Vallarta and went to a little beach called Mismaloya (the town which put PV on the map because 'The Night Of The Iguana' was filmed there in 1963!!) it's a beautiful cove with white sand and turquoise waters. We spent the majority of the day there and then went for Taco's again!! On Sunday we had the girls round for a BBQ which was fun but unfortunately Amy was poorly (not my cooking I promise!) so we just had a quiet night.
The week began with a couple of trips to visit the centres that we would be volunteering in. We went with Laura and it was great to be shown around and introduced to everyone as my Spanish is not quite up to scratch yet!! The first place was an old peoples home that the Keele girls were going to be visiting and helping out at. There is a Physio who works there a few days a week but until Therapies Unite came in the majority of the residents were bed bound because she did not have the equipment or support to get them all up and out herself. Due to the determination and hard work of some Therapies Unite volunteers and the Physio all of the residents are now mobile and they even have an exercise class threee times a week which is really popular. Many of the residents have wheelchairs/ rollators and walking sticks donated by Therapies Unite.
The second centre was Project Pityal where we went last week to do the dance therapy sessions. It is a really nice centre with about 20 children who attend with a variety of disorders. The children are here because they will not be accepted into mainstream school and the parents go to work so this acts as a daycare centre with Physiotherapy and eduction but the teacher is on maternity leave at the moment so there are no classes. Which means the children are missing out on education that could help them get a job etc. in the future which is a real shame. There are a few older girls who are very friendly and smiley and want to know our names, want us to plait their hair and maybe they may be able to help improve my Spanish. Laura also highlighted that one of the girls is very smiley but occasionally goes on a rampage and there is every chance she will pick you up and throw you in the pool - so I think I will keep out of her way! I will keep you posted on how that goes.
There are also a number of wheelchair bound children with a variety of conditions, but for most of them I do not know A specific diagnosis as I am yet to see any notes and probably wouldn't understand a word of it anyway! It was apparent on day one that I would have a similar uphill struggle that I had at Calthorpe with seating! Therapies Unite have donated a number of chairs to the children at Pitiyal but unfortunately for various reasons they are not all using them. I have made it my mission over the next few weeks, to review all of the chairs, fix what I can fix and try to teach the carers how best to position the children in the chairs (something Laura has done numerous times but fingers crossed the new postural booklet Laura is getting published this week will help with that!)
I have visited the centres every day this week and have started on my chair venture and have written an inventory of the other equipment that they have and don't seem to be using. I have also met the physiotherapist who works there, she is lovely and works really hard, which is tough in this heat - there are a few language barriers but hopefully we will get there.
On Thursday we had our first Catrins Penguins session - it was so much fun. Laura has helped so many children to learn to swim and be confident in the water and they love it! The Halliwick approach which I have never used before is a really fun way of teaching disabled children to swim through some very simple concepts. This week our theme was 'visiting the farm' the kids loved it and it was great to see them be independent in the water and most of them were better at floating than me!!
On Friday this week Laura and I visited an orphanage to see a three year old girl that a volunteer for another charity had asked us to see because she wasn't well. The orphanage was huge and mad - children running everywhere!! The nuns that ran the orphanage pointed us in the direction of the nursery and we went to meet Luceiro - she is three years old and visibly has a neurological disorder, from what we can tell there is no history and no diagnosis. She is waiting to be transferred to an institution for disabled orphans in Guadalajara but is waiting here until then. The carers report she might have a lactose intolerance as she has a very distended tummy when she has milk and they report she is difficult to position and gets a number of chest infections. Looking at Luceiro she is very pretty with big brown eyes and a very expressive face, she looked at us tentatively and was not sure what we were doing. She has increased tone in all four of her limbs and struggles with any active movements, she has no control of her head and is very skinny except for a very bloated distended tummy. Laura and I explained that it was likely she was aspirating her food and therefore getting a number of chest infections and gave the carers advice on not feeding her lying down, we also explained that we would try and get her some sort of supportive chair / seating to help them with this. Laura and I are planning in returning next week hopefully with a chair and to try and start some physiotherapy. I will then go to the orphanage twice a week and try to help the carers support Luceiro better.
In the afternoon on Friday we all went to meet a 10year old girl with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). Kimberley lives in a small one bedroom house with her mum, sister and her sisters three children. She had a powered chair but has a severe scoliosis and the chair was too big for her and unable to support her appropriately. Unfortunately when her mum came to Laura about getting a moulded chair the charity did not have the funds to provide her with a chair and so her mum held a fundraiser evening at the hotel where she worked and raised all the money herself. Just before we went to the house Laura and I were driving around PV on the hunt for some SpiderMan stickers to decorate the chair as SpiderMan is her absolute favourite! When we arrived at the house the look on her mums face was amazing, she looked so happy and when we transferred her into the chair she looked so proud of her (it was a lovely moment to witness) they were so thankful to Laura and to all the people that had donated and had made this possible. The chair looked brilliant and she LOVED her SpiderMan stickers!!
On a social note we have eaten a lot more delicious food, tasted a few more margaritas (loving the mango margaritas at the moment!) and have tried some salsa dancing - we can safely say that none of us (except Laura - because she is practically Mexican the way she dances!) are any good at salsa - but there is still time to learn maybe I can persuade Edwin to give me some lessons!!