Saturday, July 17, 2010

Llegamos en los Estados Unidos!

We finally arrived home safe and sound after an entire day of traveling...literally. We left the apartment at 3:30 am and did not arrive in NY until approximately 10:40pm and then had to wait for our luggage.

Of course, our trip home did not happen uneventfully...we had to go through countless number of security checks, bag checks, passport checks, numerous questions of why we were in Colombia....and of course I almost got in trouble for overextending my stay in Colombia. We found this out when we tried to go through emigration. Apparently when we arrived in Colombia, the immigration official put the wrong number of days that I was going to be in the country. He wrote down that I would be there for 30 days instead of the 56 that I told him. This caused a commotion when I tried to leave...luckily Tanya's passport had the appropriate number of days written in it, we had our original travel itineraries, and there was a super nice man who spoke English that could explain the situation to the emigration official. After some discussions amongst themselves, we were finally given permission to leave. Phew!! I really did not want to be interrogated or detained or whatever happens if you overextend a stay in another country!

Then we had our lovely 7 hour layover in Miami and when we finally boarded the plane, we were informed that a light was burnt out in the console and they had to get maintenance back on the plane to replace it and sign off on it. Tanya and I thought we were never getting home. We just hoped and prayed we wouldn't arrive at JFK and find out our luggage was missing. Luckily all our luggage was accounted for and we finally parted ways...It has been a wonderful 8 weeks. Many thanks to everyone at Gladney and Superkids for allowing us this amazing experience!!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Todo lo bueno se acaba

Well friends, the time has come for Tanya and I to leave the wonderful city of Cali, Colombia. The past 8 weeks have been unbelievable and the time has flown by. It seems like just yesterday that we arrived. We have grown to love the city, the food, the people, and the kids. We take with us fond memories of all our experiences here and would love to return one day! Unfortunately it has been raining here pretty much all week, but one of our friends here told us that it was God crying because we were leaving Cali. :)

Our last week here has been fairly uneventful. We contemplated various trips to other areas of Colombia, but decided to just relax and enjoy Cali one last time. Over the weekend, we ran last minute errands and finished all the projects on our to do list. We also went to a local park where artists display their work every Sunday and admired their paintings.

On Monday, we delivered all the projects and said one last good-bye to the kids at Oscar Scarpetta and Chiquitines. On Wednesday we went to el Zoológico de Cali. Unfortunately it rained for most of the day, but we still had a great time seeing all the animals. Last night we tried Colombian perros calientes for the first time. It was pretty good but very different than American hot dogs when it came to the toppings (cheese, bacon, pineapple salsa, crushed up potato chips, and ketchup, mustard, mayo if you wanted).

This morning, the pregnant mothers invited us over for breakfast and gave us a little gift of chocolates :) As we were leaving, one of the volunteers was arriving to help lead the exercises! They had seen our exercise posters and really liked them.

Chao Cali! Nuestra experiencia fue maravillosa. Muchas gracias a todos los amigos y amigas de Colombia por su amor, risas, y amistad!!

Here are some pictures of us being silly from the zoo:

Friday, July 9, 2010

El Fin...Casi

This week was technically our last week volunteering at Chiquitines and Oscar Scarpetta. However, we still have a few loose ends to tie up so we will be visiting all the places again next week.

Our last day at Chiquitines was on Wednesday. The staff had flowers and a cake for us at lunch. We really contemplated smuggling some of the babies home with us!! We will really miss working with them and seeing their amazingly cute smiles! One of the little guys we have worked with has gained a lot more weight and is developing more of his personality every time we see him. We did not get to finish making the exercise folder for the little girl with spina bifida due to some of the pictures not being printed so that is on our list of things to do this weekend. That night, we went and visited the little guy who was adopted! It was the night before he left and it was great to see him! He has bonded so well to his new mom and dad and it was such an awesome experience to see him so happy!

On Thursday, we had a meeting with the staff at Oscar Scarpetta to go over the work we have done with the kids there. They were all really happy with our work and thought it was a great experience from both sides. We also brought in a piece of softer flooring for the salacuna where the babies can play so they are not on the hard concrete floor and jump ropes for the older kids. Along with the fun stuff, we brought in the last two exercise posters for the medianos y jardin. They also had a farewell luncheon for us, which was extremely touching. Representatives from each sala came up to give us cards that they made. We hated being the center of attention, but really loved the fact that we have been able to form such great friendships and bonds with all the kids here. We even attempted a little inpromptu thank you speech in Spanish in front of everyone!

That afternoon, we gave our last exercise and massage session to the pregnant women. It has been really fun working with them and they all expressed their gratitude. Over the past couple sessions, they have started opening up to us more and having more conversations which has been great. We are almost done with creating an exercise poster for them. More snafus with our pictures kept us from delivering the poster this morning. Oh well. Just add to our list of projects for this weekend...

Today was our last day at Oscar Scarpetta. We went with some of the "externos" and "internos" to see Bodies at el Museo de la Tertulia. It was interesting and fun, but hot and tiring at the same time. The kids all seemed to really enjoy it. And what's not fun about cramming about 80 kids and about 10 adults into one school bus on a hot, hot day?? After we got back to el Instituto, we spent the rest of our time hanging out one last time with some of the older kids. We jumped rope, we chatted, we took lots of pictures, and we went to play with the babies. Then we had to say good-bye...but of course we will be back next week because we have to bring in our makeshift balance beam for the younger kids and pictures for the older kids. This is the last of the tasks on our "to do" list for this weekend.

Now for lots of pictures from this week:

All the kids at our farewell luncheon

Our thank you "speech"

All of the thank you cards we got from each sala

The babies having fun on their new playmat

Chilling on the new playmat

Us with some of the older girls and babies

Tanya working on the exercise poster for the medianos

Anita working on the facial exercise poster

Us working on the jump ropes

Us with one of the "niñas grandes" with a thank you card she made for each of us

On the bus to see Bodies. There were lots of kids sitting on laps...

Double dutch

Tanya with a bunch of the kids

Anita with some of the kids

A todos los niños y niñas, les queremos mucho y les extrañarémos mucho!! Nos encantaba trabajar con todos y la experencia aqui fue muy chevere. Solamente tenemos una semana mas... (To all the kids, we love you very much and we will miss you very much!! We loved to work with everyone and the experience here was great. We only have one week left...)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Una Semana Bacano!

Last week I talked about two very exciting events that occured with the children that we work with here. Well this week, we would like to share with you another exciting moment that has occured.

So as Anita and I have mentioned several times before, the babies that we work with both at Chiquitines and Oscar Scarpetta present with some developmental delays. One of the younger babies that we work with at Oscar Scarpetta was unable to roll from supine to prone ( from the back to the stomach), sit or position into quadruped independently. As of the second week of working with this baby, he was able to sit for short periods of time independently and even began to intiate rolling independently. As of today, this baby is able to roll, sit for longer periods of time and position himself into quadruped independently. In addition, in his first attempts to learn to crawl he has began to perform what we call the worm crawl. He has begun to move both his knees at the same time and then both arms, so it kind of looks like he is performing the worm. But he is definitely moving on his own, and we are sure that it will not be long till he is full blown crawling.

At Chiquitines, we had the pleasure of attending a play and graduation ceremony for the older children. They were soo adorable and they sang very well. Five children graduated from pre-school and one recived an honorary certificate for her great work. We were also able to experience a Cumbia performance ( a form of dance) with the children.

Last but not least, we would like to share with you how we spent our 4th of July. We didn't attend any BBQs or even grill any hot dogs or hamburgers. Instead we ran our first ever 1/2 marathon, Media Maraton de Cali. Anita's goal was to complete the whole race running and my goal was to at least finish the race. I am very happy to say that we both completed our goals and rewarded ourselves by spending the rest of the day in bed. Happy 4th of July to us!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Una semana muy emocionante!

As you can see from the title of this blog, it has been a VERY exciting week for us. The children that we work with both at Oscar Scarpetta and Chiquitnes are getting stronger every day and the mothers at the birth home are more enthusiastic about performing exercises and receiving massages every week. It's only fitting that we share some of our exciting moments of this past week with you all.

So, last week Anita told you about one of the little guys at Oscar Scarpetta who was sooooo close to taking his first indpendent steps. Well, can you guess what happened this week??? Not only did he take his first indpendent steps, he was able to stand up on his own without using an object or another person to pull himself up!!!!! Exciting Event Numero Uno!!!! Now this little guy walks every where, it's absolutely great! So i'm sure by now you're wondering "What else, what else?" Let's see, something exciting occured with one of the gemellos ( twins) this week as well. During the weeks that we have been at Oscar Scarpetta, we have been working with two twins ( soo adorable ). These twins are able to sit up and transition from supine to prone ( on their back to their stomach) independently. They are also able to crawl on their bellies independently; however, at their age they should be able to perform reciprocal crawling in quadruped ( on hands and knees) and pull to stand independently. When we first began working with them, they would belly crawl using both arms and one leg, while the other leg was kept straight. We would give them constant tactile feedback to bend both knees while belly crawling, in addition we worked on tall kneeling ( kneeling on both knees), strengthening their hip and back extensors and standing. This week, one gemello began to crawl in a full quadruped position!!!! Exciting Event Numero Dos!
Exciting Event Numero Uno!

Exciting Event Numero Dos!

This past week, we made a booklet containing developmental exercises for the caretakers and the volunteer nurse to use with the babies at Chiquitines. The nurse, caretakers and director at Chiquitnes, were extremely pleased with what we made for them. The nurse in particular is considering working our plan of care into her stimulation program. We were also able to meet several new additions to the "Chiquitnes Babies", 3 of which were the babies of women who we worked with at the birth mothers house, and I must say they are MUY PRECIOSO!!!. In addition to all that has happened this week, one of the babies who we worked with was presented to the family that HE ADOPTED on Monday! It is so great to see that he has chosen a wonderful family, but we are going to miss working with him.

This past weekend we visited Parque Nacional del Cafe and learned about Colombia Coffee. We even became the new Juan Valdez. This parque was an amazing experience, just ask the HUGE hairy spider that Anita came in contact with :). And who knew that so much bambo grew here in Colombia because we sure didn't until we went to Bambusario ( Bambo area), now we notice them every where.

Look at all of that Bamboo!

Meet Anita's New Best Friend

MMMMMMMMMMMM!!! Colombian Coffee

Somos amantes de nuestra experiencia aquí en Colombia, pero estamos muy triste que el final está cerca (We are loving our experience here in Colombia, but we are very sad that the end is near). Until then, we are attempting to do as much as we possibly can!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Estamos aprendiendo mucho

We are now halfway through our stay here. Time has flown by and it's a little sad to think that we're already halfway done. It also means we only have 4 more weeks to work with the kids here and we want to do as much as possible.

The kids at Oscar Scarpetta are doing great. One little guy is SO close to taking his first independent steps and is now able to stand independently for a bit before he gets nervous and sits back down. He is walking longer distances with a light hand-hold and also attempts to transition from sitting on the floor to standing. The two younger babies that we're working with have made more improvements with their sitting balance and one is getting a lot better at maintaining quadruped (on hands and knees) and rocking back and forth. Hopefully he will be crawling (technically creeping) soon! One of the babies used to rock back and forth a lot and bang his head repeatedly against the crib or wall; he would also keep his right hand in a fist with his thumb tucked under his index finger. It seems the head banging has improved a little and we did not notice it as much yesterday. He is also making more eye contact and opening up his hands more.

One of the "medianos" we are working with improved with his motor planning and is getting better at completing exercises properly and his jumping skills are a lot better than before. The other kids we are working with mostly require general strengthening and conditioning. We have fun with races, crab walking, leap frog and various other exercises.

At Chiquitines, we continued to work with the little ones. We have been talking with a volunteer nurse there who has developed a stimulation program for the babies. We are going to share ideas and learn from each other. Since this was only our second visit, there is nothing major to report here. Although, we just found out one of the little guys we have been working with is getting adopted!!! He is adorable and we are so happy for him and his new family :)

This week we introduced TheraBand strengthening exercises to the pregnant women. They really seemed to like it, although it was a little more challenging for them. Today we provided shoulder, upper back and lower back massages to help them end their week. Next week, a volunteer is coming to observe our exercise class on Thursday so she can help lead some classes after we leave. We also learned that one of the mothers was having contractions today and she is going to have or has had her baby!

Overall, it has been a great fourth week. As for our own personal adventures, we have gotten to visit El Cristo Rey which overlooks Cali, had lunch at a great restaurant in the Andes, started "training" for our half marathon, and went out salsa dancing for the second time. :)

Pictures from some of our adventures and with some of the kids...

Cristo Rey

Gorgeous rainbow overlooking Cali

Us with Carlos Andres Gomez, an amazing artist who carves art into the clay on the side of the road

Great restaurant in the Andes mountains

The Andes

Adorable girl at Chiquitines...working on core strengthening

Facilitating muscle activation in her legs to prevent atrophy

Working with some girls with facial palsy...Blowing bubbles to help stimulate the mouth muscles

Big smile!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Una semana chevere

We have finished another week here in Cali. This past week was a short week because Monday was a holiday. We now have a new schedule. We work with the kids at Oscar Scarpetta on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursday mornings, and Friday mornings. On Wednesday, we work with the kids at Chiquitines and on Thursday and Friday afternoons we work with pregnant women.

The kids at Oscar Scarpetta continue to make progress and we are almost done with the printouts we want to provide for the care takers. We have begun working more with a couple young girls who have facial palsies and they really enjoy practicing the exercises with us because they involve bubbles! The older kids have been amazing Spanish teachers for us and we learn more and more everyday and we continue to teach them English as well.

At Chiquitines we are working with 7 babies and one 8 year old girl with spina bifida. Most of the babies have developmental delays and we work on positioning and strengthening with them. The little girl with spina bifida is so much fun to work with. We are helping her learn how to recruit the muscles in her legs to help prevent atrophy and also working on general core strengthening. She really enjoys the exercises and asked us for more!

There are currently 9 women at the home for pregnant women. On Thursday we had an exercise class with them and they really enjoyed it and wanted more exercises. None of them have exercised in the past, so we did not want to overwork them on the first day but promised we would provide more in the weeks to come. We were also able to get some Theraband for them to use for strengthening and will begin with those next week. Yesterday we returned to their home to provide low back and foot massages to each of them. They really enjoyed those. So each week we will have one day of exercises and one day of pampering.

Other than volunteering, we have been keeping busy with many activities. Last Friday we went and saw Delirio, an amazing salsa show. Then on Saturday we went out salsa dancing for the first time! It was really fun but exhausting. We also took a trip to the Rio Pance (a nearby river) which was beautiful and very refreshing. On Wednesday and Thursday we experienced a bus strike, which made getting places a little more difficult. The drivers of the smaller buses decided to strike because the Mio is going to be allowed to have routes on the smaller roads now. And now we need to start running because we decided to attempt the Cali 1/2 Marathon on July 4th. We're crazy, but trying to take advantage of as much as possible while we're down here!