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21 March - The Journey Begins

After months of planning, the day is finally here... I begin my travel tonight and arrive in Guatemala tomorrow morning! This is my second trip through GROW and if it’s anything like the first, it’s going to be an exciting ride! I hope to share my adventures with all of you.

The Global Rehabilitation Organization at Washington (GROW) is a Registered Student Organization (RSO) developed from a shared interest in global health, community outreach, and developing international perspective among students in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Washington.

The purpose of this organization is to:

- Provide opportunity, structure, and support for students to participate in the global community, both locally and abroad.

- Create unique learning experiences that foster an enhanced cultural competence transcending border, language, class, race & ethnicity.

- Establish sustainable, reciprocal, egalitarian partnerships addressing and positively affecting the health concerns of global communities.

- Promote global health initiatives through provision of rehabilitation services, education, and support of existing structures to best meet the needs of host communities.

Through this nationally recognized, student run global health organization we have united with a local Guatemalan health organization - Hearts In Motion (HIM) - to volunteer in Zacapa, Guatemala. More than 40% of Guatemala’s population does not have access to healthcare services, and there are an estimated 0.9 physicians and 1 hospital bed per 1,000 people. Our goal as growing practitioners is to help those less fortunate because we believe that every global citizen deserves access to quality healthcare.

I am excited to apply my knowledge gained over the past few years to serve this community. The organization we are collaborating with, HIM, provides local and sustainable health care initiatives. HIM’s mission is to provide quality medical care for the people they serve throughout Guatemala and Central America. In Zacapa, we will inform and assist local health care professionals and provide therapeutic services to individuals throughout the region without access to this type of care.

As a physical therapy student I will be supervised by a licensed PT, who has selflessly volunteered her time, to help provide services to those who do not have adequate access to rehabilitation specialists. During our visit we will learn about practicing PT with various barriers, such as language differences and limited resources. As a team we will collaborate to transfer our knowledge and skills to local healthcare providers in an effort to cultivate sustainable solutions to health disparities.

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