Drop a Pebble in the Water
“Drop a pebble in the water: just a splash, and it is gone; But there’s half-a-hundred ripples Circling on and on and on, Spreading, spreading from the center, flowing on out to the sea. And there is no way of telling where the end is going to be.”- James W. Foley
When CMMB volunteer alumna Amber Walker threw her pebble into the water, she never could have known the ripples it would make, but she threw it anyway. The legacy she left behind is inspiring.
In 2011, Amber Walker volunteered with CMMB in Peru. While she was a therapist by training and profession, she originally joined the maternal health program in Trujillo to assist mothers and newborns.
While there, she became well acquainted with the needs of the people of Trujillo. Quickly, she noticed one segment of the community that was constantly overlooked: children with disabilities.
According to the National Council for Integration of People with disabilities, 31% percent of Peruvians live with a disability; yet only 12% of them receive rehabilitation services. The children and their families suffer disproportionately. More than half of all children who have disabilities cannot attend school in Peru, which is not surprising given that only a tiny percentage (<1%) of buildings are handicap accessible. Bound to their homes by their immobility and rejected by the community because of their condition, these children and their families languish in silence without access to the health services that could potentially change their lives.
The memories of the families Amber met stayed in her mind.
Upon returning to the United States, Amber took action. She decided to engage and mobilize her colleagues at Regis University into a force for change in Trujillo. With a team of professionals in tow, Amber returned to Peru to train and assist caregivers and physical therapists to work with children who needed rehabilitative services. Once trained, these community caregivers would then provide the appropriate therapies to the children who were once bound to their homes, without access to the essential therapies and healthcare they required.
“Her smile lights up our life. Her kisses and hugs are our best reward.” – Ericka’s grandfather
The seed Amber sowed five years ago has now bloomed into the Rehabilitation with Hope program, which caters to the needs of children with disabilities in individual and community settings. Today, CMMB runs two fully equipped centers for disabled children, employing five specialists and meeting the needs of 72 children. Of those children, 36 now attend special schools that meet their needs. Additionally, the program has caught the attention of the government health system and is being used as a model for future efforts.
Amber’s vision and hard work did much more than help children learn to walk; it changed the lives of their families and truly transformed the community. Five years ago children with disabilities and their parents lived in isolation – in silent shame and despair. Today many of them they live with dignity and hope.
“I had almost given up. My baby was a year old and not doing well. I could not get help.” – Mariluz (Benjamin’s mother)
CMMB is actively seeking brave souls like Amber who will take the first step in building a legacy of change.