Ask most people who volunteer and they’ll tell you that the rewards that they get from their experiences are far greater than the time and effort they give to the cause. Alan, Devin and Gary, three of our PBO Niagara employees, would heartily agree with that sentiment after a week volunteering at a prosthetics clinic in Belize. Here are some of their thoughts about their trip.
“Giving back is really important to us at PBO Group. In the past, we’ve assisted amputees in Africa, but this time we chose Belize as the country that we would help. Through research, we discovered that there is no domestic prosthetic care in Belize. Individuals living with an amputation need to travel out of the country for care or wait for a team, such as ours, to come to them. As a result, individuals who can’t afford to travel to Mexico, Guatemala, or the United States are forced to wait an indeterminate amount of time and go on waitlists that are only growing longer for “mission teams” to come and provide what care they can in short amounts of time. As a group, we saw this as such a great opportunity to help.”
Was it apparent that your work was filling a real need for people in Belize?
“When we arrived at the first amputee clinic, we were greeted with cheers and hollers from the patients that had been patiently awaiting our arrival. We put in long hours with limited supplies but the people we helped were so appreciative. They grasped our hands and would stare us straight in the eyes when they told us how much we were helping them. This, combined with watching them take their first steps post-amputation, is what we, as prosthetists, live for. Many of the people we helped also took it upon themselves to bring us homemade snacks and cakes as a token of their appreciation. Both the gratitude they felt toward us and the overall experience of this trip was far better than I ever could have imagined.”
How many lives were impacted as a result
of your volunteer work in Belize?
“We arrived in Belize with a goal of fitting 20 new prostheses over the course of the week that we would be there. We also factored into our work plan seeing an additional 30 people for repairs and adjustments to their prostheses. At the end of our week, we had completed 21 legs and saw all 30 of the repairs and adjustments. We were told this was a new record for the clinic!”
Did your volunteer work in Belize change your perspective in any way?
“There is no doubt that the people we met and the work that we did will impact the rest of my career and my life. Having never gone on a mission like this before, I was both excited and fearful of the unknown when we set out on our trip. From the moment we arrived in Belize, we were greeted with open arms. By combining their very scarce resources with our own materials, tools and knowledge, we were able to change lives for the better. I will never forget the joy on the peoples’ faces and the pure gratitude they felt at that moment when they received their new prosthesis – it was magical.”