By Jacob King
As a college student, traveling can be a hard piece to fit into a strict academic schedule. For 14 UF physical therapy students, they managed to combine travel and studies.
The University of Findlay’s Doctorate of Physical Therapy program worked in affiliation with the mission organization, Hearts for Honduras, for the annual trip abroad to Nicaragua. The organization is a mission program that started in 1996 and their aim is to develop churches in surrounding areas and improve general population health.
“While we were in Nicaragua, we visited five clinics in different cities around Somoto, where we stayed.” Said Amanda Pye, junior physical therapy major.
Typical days were filled with constant travels to communities that needed medical attention and the actual treating of patients.
“Our typical treatment day was to get up in the morning, eat, load all of our equipment into the vans, travel for about 2 hours, treat patients, then eat lunch, drive back to the hotel, clean up for dinner, eat, then in the evening there was time for fellowship and reflection on the day,” said Pye. “As a group we treated between 20-50 patients daily.”
Those who sought after medical attention would have to overcome obstacles, such as distance, to receive the treatment they needed.
“While at these clinics, we treated numerous patients, some who had walked for two hours, while carrying their child, to get to us,” said Pye.
The trip consisted of 20 total people. There were 14 PT students, one faculty member, one alumnus, one nurse, one certified physical therapist and a pre PT student with her mom.
The simplicity of life in Nicaragua had a side of complexity and pleasure to it.
“It was amazing to me to see the different things that these people have and in other respects did not have,” said Pye.
Pye said that some parts of the cities they visited were very commercialized with fast food franchises such as Burger King or Coca Cola. However, this commercialization wasn’t found in all areas.
“While some of the areas we were at were more depressed with cobbled together houses and no running water,” said Pye.
The natural beauties of Nicaragua were enough to surpass any of the poverty and hardships witnessed in the communities. While flying in, the members of the trip had the opportunity to see an active volcano from above the sky. Pye said that the good definitely weight about the bad.
“There wasn’t too much that was unenjoyable about the trip,” said Pye. “The most enjoyable part of the trip was to get the chance to work with my classmates and the people of Nicaragua, as well as the different friendships that were made with the people down there and our translators.”
The experience in Nicaragua provided great insight to the needs of communities in other countries and offered UF students a personal reflection in their own majors.
“I would absolutely go back again. I would like to go on a multidisciplinary trip with other professions such as physician’s assistants, pharmacists, and Spanish majors,” said Pye. “Overall it was a very eye-opening trip and reaffirming as to why I chose the profession that I did.”