by Byrna Bornstein, MA, CCC-SLP
Thank you so much for your donation to our medical mission in Cusco, Peru.
I just returned from my fourth trip to Cusco with MMFC, Medical Missions for Children. Over the years, the speech-language arm of the trip has become increasingly valued by both the multi-disciplinary team and the local community.
The focus of our mission is on cleft lip and palate and microtia patients. While I am able to work collaboratively with a wonderful medical team, the speech-language therapy clinic has grown independent of the group. We have numbers of people coming just for the speech-language therapy. While I see many children who have cleft issues, my caseload in Peru is robust. Presenting questions involve early language development, autism, voice, fluency, literacy and augmentative communication.
I have seen some children for 2, 3 and 4 years! We see children from the local Cusco area and others who travel many hours from the jungle. Many are worried about leaving their small farms unattended for the long trip to our clinic. One mom, who brought her child in for the 4th consecutive year, reported that she "saves all year" so she can make the journey to our clinic for her annual speech therapy session!
Education is key and these families are hungry for information. This year I had families who spoke to the utility of directives I gave them 2 years ago! Many report that their children's speech and language has been improving beyond their expectations. There is joy in seeing these children grow in the context of our "same time next year" relationship.
I've seen some changes in the past 4 years. The people who have a bit of money are increasingly able to access speech therapy services in Cusco. There are long waiting lines but some are enrolled in limited affordable or free services locally or in the communities.
Orthodontics is becoming a local option.
Everyone seems to have a cell phone. Computer access has increased. Thus, people are seeking information about relevant websites, YouTube demos, etc.
Over the years, TalkTools has become an important element of my treatment. Thanks to your generous donation, I brought the Honey Bear, Straw 1 and Horns 1 and 2 with me to Peru this year. Parents understood the concept due to training previously provided. They welcomed these new tools. I look forward to seeing the impact when I return next year.
Thank you so much for contributing to this year's mission in Cusco, Peru and for the good you do for children around the world!
This family returned for their 4th year. They live many hours away in the jungle. They save their money each year for their annual speech consult with our mission. Follow-through on instruction is excellent!
Byrna Bornstein, MA, CCC-SLP
Volunteer with Medical Missions for Children