Ecuador 2013 was by far one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I went into the trip very excited knowing that I would be meeting lots of people (both on my team as well as the people of Ecuador), learning about a new culture, and getting to use my knowledge as an Occupational Therapist to help as many people as possible. I knew the trip would be something special, but I did not know the extent to which it would change my life. And, I definitely did not figure that I would be leaving the trip with even more excitement than I had going into it.
I learned that this trip is just one small piece of the remarkable work Causes for Change International, led by Zully, is doing for the people and country of Ecuador. Within this 1 week trip, the team assessed hundreds of children and adults, trained local therapists, and presented to city leaders, professionals, families, and individuals challenged by various conditions and difficulties. The team presented on what occupational therapy is, physical therapy, disability rights and accessibility, treatment strategies, wheelchair use, as well as ways to modify how we do everyday activities (such as dressing, cooking, laundry) to make it easier and less stressful on the body. And all of this work is just the beginning. Being that the mission of Causes for Change is to help these cities become self-sufficient, it is up to the local people to continue to strive for further education and training and to make the necessary changes for their cities to encourage a better quality of life for their people.
I must say, watching Zully challenge and empower these people to make changes in the way they view disability and disability rights was unforgettable.
As for me, this trip taught me more than I could have ever imagined. I met so many outstanding people on this journey, and although I was the one imparting OT knowledge to them, I came away with arguably the most important lessons one can learn such as the beauty of life, hope, and love. Increíble!
Thank you, Zully, for all that you do, for the remarkable leader that you are, and for allowing me to join on this year’s trip. I have now seen how much hope Causes for Change gives the individuals it touches and how with the support from this organization, individuals and towns in Ecuador are becoming more self-sufficient and increasingly aware of disability rights and accessibility.
I realize now that I had no idea what I was getting myself into by going on this trip. It was so much more than I could have ever imagined. It is no wonder I am more excited now than I was before! There are so many positive changes happening in these parts of Ecuador, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds!