20 October 2013

You are Very Handsome

When I first interview with SIM in 2008 they were asking me to consider a placement at the Leprosy Center located four hours east of Galmi.  While I had an unique desire to work with lepers, I had absolutely no interest in coming to the desert or learning French . . . so I told SIM I'd pray about it and planned to send an email when I got home informing that the answer was no.

As I flew back to Philly, sitting in the plane processing my interview and why on earth these strangers would want to send me to a country I had never even heard of, the man next to struck up a conversation.

17 October 2013

Remembering the Unknown

Living 12km south of the middle of nowhere, I rely on the magical world of social networking to stay up to date on the cultural happenings of home.  Around here we don't have grocery stores, let alone checkout aisles lined with gossip magazines, and the BBC World page doesn't post too much on social trends.

So, facebook and pinterest keep me savvy.  Or at least in-the-know a day or two late.

This week, my wall has been littered with posts regarding the Day of Remembrance that happened in the US on 15 October.  I had never heard of it before, but it's stuck with me and today it sat face-to-face before me in the therapy gym.

01 October 2013

The Power of One

Over the past few weeks, I've made a couple of trips out to see some patients in their homes as well as to visit some other medical centers in the area.  As an Occupational Therapist, one of my favorite things is to see the disabled active in their homes and communities.  What we do in the hospital context is important, but hospital-based care is only a step toward getting a patient home.

Kids who scream when they enter the gym at the hospital, offer smiles when we come to their homes.  The therapy department is a controlled environment, we have tile on the floor and ramp access . . . no ruts in the ground or natural obstacles standing in the way . . . but at home, our patients maneuver around big rocks and livestock (definitely NONE of THAT in the gym!!).

But there's also the communal aspect of life in Niger that we cannot, yet, simulate in our facility.  While our gym is enormous in comparison to the walk-in-closet we started with, it's still only big enough to have two patients (and their familial entourage) tops working at the same time.  And in this non-individualist culture, teaching goes further when everyone is involved.