In 2016, Suzanne Trotter, PT, ScD, President of the Tesoro Project and an assistant professor in a Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at The University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences in Austin, Texas, began leading an annual one-week service-learning trip with physical therapy and occupational therapy students and clinicians.
The purpose was to provide outpatient rehabilitation services and local community projects in the Guatemala City Garbage Dump by working with Potter's House Association-International (PHA) in Guatemala City, Guatemala. PHA has been working in this community for over 30 years and is able to help us identify community members that we can best serve with skilled rehabilitation.
The community surrounding the garbage dump is home to approximately 13,000 people who survive by scavenging the largest and most toxic landfill in Central America. Access to basic healthcare and rehabilitative services is significantly limited due to lack of financial resources within the community and lack of local providers willing to serve what has been considered a dangerous neighborhood.
We have been the only physical and occupational therapy group to provide annual rehabilitation services a Potter's House Association. Approximately 25 students, clinicians, and faculty from The University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS) in Austin, Texas have attended these annual trips.