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College of Health Professions E-Newsletter

Uganda Field Notes

Emily Caveny

Ms. Emily Caveny, Occupational Therapy student, enjoys a moment with an Ugandan boy as he awaits a check-up at the local clinic in Masindi, Uganda.

Lauren Wengerd

Ms. Lauren Wengerd, Occupational Therapy student, helps an Ugandan patient fit his "wheelchair" with molds to improve his posture and comfort.

Adapted from The Catalyst

Sixteen occupational therapy and physical therapy students chose to spend their spring break working in Uganda as volunteers for a trip organized through the Palmetto Medical Initiative. Dr. Patty Coker-Bolt, Occupational Therapy faculty, played a vital role in the recruitment for this organization. The students traveled 7,400 miles to Masindi, Uganda from May 4-14, 2012.

"You would go to clinic with your shoes and a hat and you would leave without them," she said. "Going on this trip was the best decision I have ever made. Learning both life and career lessons while helping people who genuinely need it? Sign me up." Ms. Emily Caveny

"As I sit both mentally and physically exhausted on a two-hour van ride back from clinic, I am trying to wrap my mind around everything I experienced today. I met a man whose amazing smile and overwhelming gratefulness will forever be engrained in my mind. He had a severe case of polio, something that is rarely seen in the States anymore, and as a result had the most debilitating case of scoliosis I may ever see. He came to us in a wheelchair made of a hard plastic lawn chair and bike tires hoping for a cure, or at the very least, relief from the pain. We luckily had some foam material that we were able to modify and attach to his chair to provide him better posture, and most importantly, comfort. As he sat back on a soft surface for maybe the first time in his life his huge smile and laughter said it all. Something as simple as making a chair that he uses everyday more comfortable may have changed his quality of life forever, and at the end of the day, it doesn't matter if you are in America or Uganda. That is what I came to OT school for. That is what occupational therapy is all about." – Ms. Lauren Wengerd

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