December 31, 2009

Project Hope Belize Completes December Mission Trip

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Robert Kistenberg talks with long time PHB patient Prudencio Carillo about his prosthesis.

Ten people from across the country of Belize celebrated their first steps toward independence by getting new prostheses from Project Hope Belize (PHB), the only prosthetic facility in Belize. The team consisted of Robert Kistenberg, MPH, CP, FAAOP; Todd Norton, CP, FAAOP; Chris Cummings; and Dave Anderson. During the one-week mission trip, the team made prostheses for three people with transfemoral amputations, one person with a knee disarticulation, five people with transtibial amputations, and one individual with bilateral transtibial amputations.

“Providing prostheses is always a nice way to wrap up the year,” said Kistenberg, president of PHB. “We don’t charge for services but instead request donations. People pay what they can afford, and no one gets turned away.”

This was Norton’s first trip back to Belize in almost eight years. “It was great to be back in Belize. The last time I was here, we were working in the heat of the summer in the technical high school’s automotive shop. Now there is a facility devoted to P&O care. Project Hope Belize has come a long way.”


Chris Cummings obtains impressions of Elvira Pech while Adrian Camara observes.

Cummings also has participated in previous PHB mission trips. “There is something refreshing about being able to provide prostheses to people who truly need services and have no other means to get a leg or an arm,” Cummings noted.

Anderson, who is a contractor by trade, built shelves, improved storage spaces, and reinforced the workbenches. “I enjoyed learning about how legs were made,” he said. “Even though I’m not a prosthetist, I was able to make a worthwhile contribution to the effort. At first I wasn’t certain how I’d be able to participate. There was plenty to do, and I wish I had more time.”

When teams from the United States are not in Belize, PHB Clinical Manager Adrian Camara provides ongoing maintenance and repairs. He sets the schedules for the trips and ensures patients have the proper pre-prosthetic training, such as shrinkers and stretching, so that they are ready to be fit once the team arrives in Belize.

The trip is tax deductible as all volunteers are coming down through Project Hope Belize’s sister organization Prosthetic Hope International, formerly known as Sonrie Ministries Inc. Prosthetic Hope International is a US 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

PHB has been providing prosthetic services in Belize since 1996.

For more information, contact Kistenberg at robcp@gatech.edu

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