Today was a great day! In the morning we had a surprise. We made a contact with Dr. Rosa, a pediatric surgeon at Hospital San Gabriel in La Paz. This morning he agreed to let us come observe a cleft palate surgery. We arrived early in the morning and changed into our surgical gear!
We took turns observing a 3 month old boy with a complete unilateral cleft of the primary and secondary palates. This means that his bones did not fuse properly during embryonic development, leaving him with a completely open palate and lip, extending all the way up through one nostril. Dr. Rosa was incredible and really wanted us to learn from observing the surgery. He encouraged us to come right up to the operating table so we could really see what he was doing. It was amazing watching Dr. Rosa work; he was incredibly precise and delicate. After the surgery, a small group got to spend time with the doctor. He let us visit with a patient who had their cleft palate surgery done 5 days ago to see the result. The baby was feeding during the visit and recovering nicely! After the visit with the patient, Dr. Rosa took the students into his office to discuss his preferred surgery techniques to prevent or fix insufficient velopharyngeal closure. This is a term referring to the movement of the muscles at the back of the mouth that allows for accurate production of speech sounds. As speech pathologists, this is of course a huge area of interest for us and it was great to hear his techniques and opinions.
After our time in the hospital we returned to Camino where we continued with our work there. Our clients are making progress in therapy which is very exciting to see! Today several of our clients worked with the computer program Audacity. This is a free software that creates a soundwave from incoming speech signal. The visual feedback helped many of our clients increase their intensity (loudness) and improve the quality of their speech! The younger classroom also enjoyed another session of “circle time” today. They are enjoying the songs, books, and routines and we hope it will become a sustainable activity for the teacher to continue once we leave. It’s hard to believe we only have 4 sessions left at Camino. We’re all working hard to make sure our clients and all of the children at the school benefit as much as possible from the time that we’re there.
After we left Camino for the day, it was time for some more shopping! Some of us got to visit “the scarf lady” as she has fondly been named. We purchased 75 alpaca scarves to be sold at Teachers College in the Fall semester. All of the money collected will be donated to Camino. The students from the Bolivia trip last year brought back 50 scarves that sold in a few short hours! We’re looking forward to continuing this tradition and helping to support Camino.
In the evening we had class and discussed an article relating to racism and diversity in the schools. We enjoyed sharing our individual experiences and learning from one another.