Sullivan, Assistant News Editor, @nhillsullivan
This July, students at the International Service Abroad Club are again looking to implement improvements to their Guatemalan amputee project entitled, We Love the Cause.
As of June 2012, ten amputees in Guatemala can thank UVU students for their custom-designed prosthetic legs, each costing 1-5% of the average prosthetic transtibial device. Lacking access to affordable prosthetics or governmental help, amputees in Guatemala are often unemployed and left no choice but to use crutches and beg on the streets for money.
“Last year, it took us two days to build the prosthetic leg,” said political science student and club member, Jonathan Latham.
Now with a more efficient process and rubberized design, the group is reducing that time to between 2-3 hours.
Lantham described putting the finished prosthetic foot onto his patient, Marvin Hernandez Vasquez, who lost both of his legs in an electrical accident.
“I was extremely nervous that I had made a mistake or it wouldn’t be right. I just wanted it to be my best piece of work. That was the whole reason I was there – a years worth of fundraising lead up to this one moment.”
With support from singer, Alex Boyé, students at the International Service Abroad Club collaborated this past April on a music video. Multiple campus groups including the African Club, and the Green Man Group joined with amputees from the local community in order to raise funds for the cause.
“Because [Boyé] is a UVU alumni, he said, ‘Hey let’s go film down the Hall of Flags.’ He was the one that made sure it looked like UVU”
As members of ISA found out at a concert, Boyé had personal connections to the amputee cause.
“We were fortunate enough that he didn’t turn us down because of that experience he told us about his step dad, who is an amputee,” Latham said.
Since the club got involved in prosthetics in 2010, Club President Sadie Blasucci, has had the benefit of going on the trip for the previous two years.
“We got to see some of our old patients and they come back and said, ‘This is what worked, this is what didn’t – this is my life now after you gave me this prosthetic.’”
One of these patients included Jose’ Luis, an amputee from birth defects, who was able to gain a higher paying job and independence as a result of new prosthetic.
“He came back and said ‘I used to spend a lot of time at home because I couldn’t do much. I was really reliant on my mom’ – because before he was on a crutch – He came back and said ‘I used to work at McDonalds. I work at the bank now,” said Blasucci. “We gave him a prosthetic and he came back in slacks and a shirt and tie”
Blasucci continued, “It’s really interesting how the club goes for two weeks, but there really are long lasting impacts on all of us students, as well as the patients. “
Students with a variety of majors were able to participate in the service project, from photography to business management; something that both the club advisor, Julie Bagley and Blasucci are both very in favor of.
“From a student’s perspective, it’s the little pieces that build up to the project that you can really apply to your life- pieces of the project are all individually adapted to each student. “
Blasucci also found her classes, Spanish, International relations Case Studies, and Political Ideologies applied to her experience in Guatemala.
“Because you prep for the whole year, I have two semesters building up to my trip, to think about how Guatemala fits in. I speak Spanish, that experience alone in has totally helped me in my Spanish classes,” Blasucci said.
Through working with We Love the Cause, Blasucci has found her future career path working on films to build awareness about human trafficking in the United States. She is currently preparing for a trip to New York City next week to meet with related organizations.
“I got involved in this service thing thinking, ‘I’m going to go abroad, I just want to see some place new’ and that was the main reason. [Through this service project] I got to practice some Spanish, apply it to some of my classes, and branch off my major into a career path, It’s interesting how doing this type of service has effected how I hope to make a living,” Blasucci said.