Tomorrow morning bright and early we take off for Guatemala! We are two families travelling together; Nora and Emma are sophomores in high school. Anna is a sophomore in college. Jamie Redgrave, MD is an endocrinologist in the Jen Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and also does diabetes care at Harvard University Health Services. My husband (Whit) and me round us off at six. For all but Anna, this is our second trip to Antigua. We became part of a volunteer team at Common Hope (www.commonhope.org) in April of 2012 and fell in love with the warm and welcoming people, the culture, language and landscape of the area.
Common Hope is a unique organization as the backbone of it’s workforce are it’s 25 social workers. Through home visits they support families in sending their children to school (instead of bringing them to the farms) as well as giving them opportunities to improve their housing (we built a house last year), health care (that’s where Jamie will come in as she provides continuing education to the medical providers) and mental health. Although my work at BWH is very different from theirs, our clients are challenged by many of the same psychosocial issues including domestic violence, substance use, poverty, etc. So we find much common ground.
Since the recession, Common Hope has been forced to make tough economic choices. This has resulted in the social workers and psychologists losing all funding for in-service education. While at Common Hope over the next two weeks I’ll be providing several in-service trainings on topics which include Motivational Interviewing, Positive Psychology and Resiliency in Care Providers. Each of these will be done in such a way as to promote conversation among all of us so that I am sure to learn as much from them as I bring to the sessions.
Better change the message on my work phone and head home to pack. Adios!