Joan's Journey From the Dominican

One of VIVA’s physical therapists, Joan Parker, PT, DPT, recently visited Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic for a week of volunteering with Propel Dominican Republic. Joan was gracious enough to share some of her experiences in the Dominican. Please read below for Joan’s story. 

       In the month of October I had the amazing privilege of accompanying 20 other medical professionals from the Dallas area to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic for a week of volunteering.  The mission group began 9 years ago when one therapist was traveling there with her church, and saw a need for education and training to the medical community.  While there for the week I visited 3 facilities and lectured and treated a variety of patients.  I met multiple other therapists, teachers, and doctors from all over the Dominican.  Our team had simultaneous lectures going on at the hospital all week.  People in the community traveled from all over to come hear us Americans teach and demonstrate current, evidenced-based therapy.  Additionally the wheelchair team that was with us saw patients all week and was able to deliver 71 custom fit wheelchairs!! Most of these patients had never even had mobility before. One mother brought her 16 year old daughter to the clinic to get a wheelchair. This mother had been carrying her daughter over her shoulder her entire life!! Another young man in the community who was well known, and had spina bifida received a power wheelchair.  The medical team decided to come to the community center and surprise him…he was surprised!! Another family came to the clinic with a toddler and had no diapers, or formula. Thanks to Viva and the donations given, we were able to give them enough diapers and formula for several months. The trip was an amazing experience and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity. I would say the overwhelming response I was able to take away from this experience was that as an individual we feel so small and so incapable, but collectively as a team this group was able to make profound impacts!! Never think, “I am only one person, what can I do”……we ALL have valuable traits and gifts to contribute and give back to hopefully make a difference.

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