In September of 1997, Hurricane Nora hit Northern Mexico destroying hundreds of homes. The following month Physical Therapists & volunteers from Tucson, AZ joined residents of Puerto Peñasco, Mexico to assist with relief & rebuilding efforts. From this joint effort came the idea of “Manos de Ayuda” (Helping Hands), a non-profit corporation that has both countries working together to provide much needed services, supplies & equipment for a variety of humanitarian programs. Today, Manos de Ayuda is a group of Physical Therapists, Health Care Professionals, & other compassionate volunteers, dedicated to providing humanitarian, medical, rehabilitation, & educational services to persons who are in need of assistance in Northern Sonora, Mexico.
In January of 2011, several of my classmates from the USC Doctor of Physical Therapy program & I had the opportunity to travel to Mexico to work alongside with Manos de Ayuda. This trip not only solidified my reasoning for becoming a Physical Therapist, but also made me realize that I want to continue to dedicate more time to international service trips!
We drove 10 hours down to Mexico & thats how the journey came to be. From my lens this is what I got to see…there was nothing more rewarding than to start the year by sharing my expertise with others while they simultaneously taught me. Theirin lies the beauty of this experience… it’s not only what I gave, but also what I got to receive. I gave my time & they gained from my knowledge, but there’s something bigger here to be acknowledged. I walked away exposed to things they don’t teach you in college.
While in a new environment, experiencing a different culture, there’s something to be said for making connections & creating relations. We had families lining up… generations upon generations. We created solutions, but mostly listened to them voice their frustrations about their current medical situations. Living on dirt floors & off a limited income, no electricity or running water, but they had hope they would soon save enough to afford a surgery for their 3 year old daughter. That puts into perspective the things I think in my life are a pain in the neck…hey yo, talk about a reality check. Definitely solidifies that the greatest gift is health & contentment is the greatest wealth. I know that pursuing a career in physical therapy is what makes me happy & I am grateful to be healthy enough to invest my time & skills somewhere where my presence is needed. Without a doubt, any expectations about what I would gain from the experience were far exceeded. I am so grateful for all the opportunities that I’m given, l appreciate all the help I receive, I am so thankful for all the people who take the time to care for me…It seems kinda whack that I wouldn’t take all that love & give on back.