My wonderful time in Mocoa…
I arrived in Mocoa on the 31st of January in the afternoon. After the 6 hour long bus journey from Pasto over the “Trampolìn de la muerte” what is translated something like “death trampolin” I was quite happy to have arrived well and not have been sick either.=) Standing on solid ground I rang Tamara and a few minutes later she was here already with her scooter. I never thought it would work to pack me and my two backpacks on that little Moped. But Tamara took my small one in front and off we went to go to my room directly on the “Avenida Colombia”.
I felt comfortable straight away. I liked my little room with a big bed, a cupboard, a little table, a mirror and a bathroom. One thing I noticed is that there was only one tap to turn on the water but I actually liked the cold showers I had for the next two months as the climate was very warm (always between 20-30°)
- C) and humid, so I welcomed the refreshing showers I had in the mornings and
I dropped off my bags and met Seraina, the second volunteer from Switzerland who had also just arrived the same day. The three of us went for the typical “Empanadas” and a “jugo natural” which I already knew from my journey that I had been on before coming to Mocoa but they were especially tasty. It was the perfect start to my time in Mocoa as we walked through the town center and got to know our way around a bit.
The next day, Wednesday the 1st of February we started with the first examinations of the children as it was also Tamaras start to the new year and there are new evaluations every year to keep track of the therapy. The first week was a little bit difficult as some children weren’t at home and we had to get around by taxi but all in all we found all of them eventually and told them about the new routine for the coming year. I have to admit the first few days were a little bit difficult for me as I had to get my physiotherapy brain started again in a different language, I had to get used to the Spanish and to some conditions some of the children had to live with and in. But it went quick and we developed a good routine. In the second week we went to a school called “Bienestar” which was a school for children with special needs and we were going to start physiotherapy there from then on every Monday. It was a very warming and special place for the children. Everyone was integrated and accepted as they were and with what they had to offer. The children were able to interact really well with each other and were supported by a team of care workers, a speech therapist, nurses and a sports teacher.
So that was our schedule for the coming 2 months:
Monday: Bienestar – a total of 15 children
Tuesday: Christopher – Derly – Darly – Jimmy – Isabella – Alex
Wednesday:Yoreli – Karen – Santiago – Patricia – Yilver – Derly – Paola
Thursday: Victor – Juan-José – Sebastian – Carolina – Maria-José – Sahrit
Friday:all children we weren’t able to see during the week for whatever reason
Besides Mondays we seen always three children in the morning, then went to Tamaras place to cook together for lunch and then left for the afternoon at 2pm to visit another three children at home.
The children had all different diagnosis for which they needed therapy like cerebral palsy, down syndrome, psoriatic arthritis, hemiplegia, recurrent patella luxations, microcephaly, paraplegia, meningitis, scoliosis, general genetic illnesses or some sort of muscle dystrophy with no further diagnosis. Each child was very different and needed different treatment which made the work very exciting and diversified and also the lack of therapeutic devices made you use your phantasy a little. It was so special and rewarding working with each of the children and I loved every minute I could spend with them. Tamara does great work and is a great physiotherapist and I could learn a lot from her! She works very precisely, thinks individually and with a lot of heart and still doesn’t forget the fun of the therapy and the children and also the parents love her for that I really enjoyed working
together with her and I think we balanced each other out very well and also thought very alike. We had a lot of fun with the children.
Seraina, the volunteer from Switzerland was only there until the 22nd of February so after that it was only Tamara and me until the 6th of March when Anaëlle, another volunteer born in France but living in Switzerland arrived. I really enjoyed the time I had with each of the girls but also enjoyed the time I had with Tamara. We painted their dining and bed room went for walks to the river, played XBox or went out for dinner. Together with the others we also all went out for dancing and went for hikes around the surrounding Amazonia.
After the first week Tamara and Julio had organized a second motorbike so getting around was then really easy as it was most of the time three of us.
Beside all the really tasty food we cooked together in our lunchbreak, we also ate other nice traditional food. One was the very famous Cuy of Julios dad, handmade over a fire or Sancocho or Tacacho and much more…
Time flew by so fast and I am so thankful to have been given the opportunity to work as a voluntary physiotherapist in Mocoa. I enjoyed every minute of my stay in this beautiful Amazonian town with all the amazing children whom I was able to work with and all the nice people I met. Leaving after my stay was difficult and I will miss it but I look forward to returning one day hopefully! I have to send a big thank
you Physiothérapeutes du Monde and Amaniños for making everything possible and the biggest thank you to Tamara for building up such a nice project, contributing so much to this town and for making my time so good with her.
It fills me with so much sadness hearing the bad news and seeing all the damage that has be done in Mocoa through the avalanches and overflowing rivers. I wish I could be there still to help the town I have called my home for two months.