Past Trips

Ecuador July, 2018 

In July 2018, a team consisting of one music therapist, two special education therapists, two occupational therapists, one physical therapist, one speech and language pathologist/behaviorist, a photographer/assistant occupational therapist, and three translators traveled to Latacunga, Ecuador to For His Children a home for 18 orphans with special special needs ranging in age from 1 year to 23 years with a variety of intellectual and orthopedic impairments.  The team spent the week assessing each individual, developing care plans and goals, and providing training to the the care providers and therapists on staff at the home.  Basic care plans were posted so that future teams visiting and working with the children would have ideas on how to interact with each individual in a personal way to help him/her reach their goals.  Additionally, activities were provided throughout the week by team members to model activities and provide fresh ideas.  The team donated musical instruments and various resources and equipment from each specialty.  The team spent one afternoon providing an inservice for all staff members on important information from each specialty.  Staying in the same building as the orphanage providing the team the opportunity to spend a lot more time with the children and care providers and build good bonds.

Peru: August, 2017

In August of 2017, BRIGHT Children International took their first trip to the Southern Hemisphere to visit Lima, Peru! For a week, BRIGHT partnered with Casa Hogar Padre Martinho, an orphanage for approximately 20 children with severe disabilities. The team consisted of a physical therapist, a music therapist, a special education teacher, a speech/language pathologist, an infant specialist/recreational therapist, & a registered nurse who doubled as our photographer.

Many of these children needed intense interventions from a physical therapist, to help with positioning, equipment, and comfort. Four of the children living at Padre Martinhos required the setting up of feeding pumps in order to successfully gain nutrients and gain weight. The SLP spear-headed this with assistance from the RN. The other team members assessed needs and provided suggestions, information, and therapeutic donations to the home to better serve these children. Each child received a personal bag with therapeutic materials designed just for them, along with an information sheet in English & Spanish for workers and volunteers to refer to when visiting with that child. BRIGHT was praised for being a blessing to these children, but the blessing we received from being in this house for a week was undeniable.

Guatemala: August, 2016

With another 19 team members in tow, BRIGHT Children International returned to Hope of Life International in Zacapa, Guatemala to continue the work they started in 2015. The team was made up of music therapists, a physical therapist, occupational therapists, speech/language pathologists, special education teachers, a social worker, a parent trainer, a water therapist, teenagers, and a behavior consultant.

Again, one team served at Kelly’s House, a home for orphans with severe disabilities, and the other at Safe Haven Village/The Village of Transformation: family style orphan care, where 10-12 children live with foster parents in homes.

Due to some very gracious donors, two Hoyer lifts were donated, transported, and assembled at Hope of Life. Our PT trained all of the staff at Kelly’s House and the Elderly home on how to properly use the equipment, and gave out certificates of completion. A playroom was created, filled, and used to its maximum capacity C/O BRIGHT. Nannies of toddlers who are too young to go to school were shown how to play, interact with, and encourage imaginative play in the playroom. The team felt their work was ‘done’ and decided on a new adventure for 2017.

Guatemala: August, 2015

BRIGHT took its biggest team yet, with 19 members, to Hope of Life international in Zacapa, Guatemala. The team spread itself amongst three different service opportunities, and left a much larger impact than ever before.

One team served at Kelly’s House, a home for orphans with severe disabilities. The physical therapist worked on mobility and positioning, the occupational therapist encouraged independent feeding & tooth brushing, and the music therapist & Speech and Language Pathologist worked on functional goals for the residents. The water therapist also took kids to the pool at least twice over the course of the week and was able to increase their strength and mobility using the water.

The early intervention specialists spent their week at the Nutrition Center, working with babies and toddlers who were malnourished and there for feeding treatments. They were able to get the kids out of their cribs, out of their rooms, up a ramp (physical therapy) to a play area, where they were able to explore balls, parachutes, tunnels, and toys (occupational therapy and recreational therapy). These babies are accompanied to the nutrition center by either one or both parents, so the parents were able to participate in a mommy-and-me music group, a speech and language presentation, infant massage training, and a bible study.

The third team served at Save Haven Village and The Village of Transformation with orphans living in family style foster placements. The parent educator and social worker were able to address issues with behavior and trauma, while encouraging the families to place healthy boundaries on their new homes (something the children were previously lacking). Some of these children were also assisted by an occupational therapist for sensory needs as well as a special educator for their academic needs.

Nicaragua: June, 2014

After learning of the needs in Nicaragua, BRIGHT returned with it’s largest team to Managua. This team included two music therapists, one recreational therapist, one Physical Therapist, a Physical Therapist Trainee, A Speech/Language Pathologist, a professional photographer, a researcher, a translator/Special needs advocate/retired teacher, and two teens who are along for the ride and excited to love on children.

Our trip began at New Life Nicaragua Orphanage, where we were able to implement therapy with these 20 or so children, and spend a few hours talking to the director about recommendations. All orphanage staff were trained on infant massage as well. The next three days were spent at “Tesoros de Dios School. Children with various disabilities attend this school part time (due to the high enrollment numbers) so we were able to work in a variety of ways. They have an early intervention classroom, two Physical Therapists on staff, as well as horse therapy. The school selected children that needed attention in the various areas we addressed (speech, fine motor, gross motor, special education, etc). This was truly a wonderful experience.

Lastly, We partnered with UNIDOS Nicaragua to serve with the poorest of the poor children in Los Cedros, Nicaragua. In the morning, we created a field day with nine different stations working on listening, gross motor exercises, fine motor exercises, impulse control, team work, etc. The afternoon included a presentation to the teachers, and then a second presentation to parents that were interested in learning more. It was an exhausting week, but so rewarding!

Nicaragua: August, 2013

BRIGHT was in two parts of the country for this 10 day trip to Nicaragua. We began our trip in Rivas (which is in the southern part of the country). We visited a school called Soe Maria Romero that was for children with various moderate/severe special needs including Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, deafness, and global delays. Since children in Nicaragua only go to school until 12 noon, we saw these children for the morning, and then spent some time talking with the director, teachers, and staff. We then traveled to Los Cedros, a “suburb” of Managua. There we visited a group home for boys (Casa Robles) as well as a group home for girls (Casa Havilah). These children were removed from the home because of drugs, prostitution, neglect, etc at the willingness of the parents. The four therapists that traveled to Nicaragua then went to a preschool called La Esparanza and worked with nearly 100 preschoolers that were receiving a free education on behalf of missionaries. These children were born in the city dump and would most likely show delays due to malnutrition. Another school named Colegio Cristiano Havilah was visited for two days of the trip. This school educated preschoolers through 6th graders who would not otherwise be able to afford an education. Many of the children we worked with had sensory needs, issues with impulse control, and trouble with attention. The trip finished up with a visit to New Life Nicaragua orphanage to work with the children, all of whom has special needs. These children ranged from 4 months to 5 years, and had various disabilities. Many of these disabilities were a result of drug/alcohol abuse. This is one of the few orphanages that work directly with the Nicaraguan government to help care for these children.

China: August, 2012

Once again, BRIGHT partnered with All God’s Children International, but traveled to Beijing, China for ten days. Two of these days were tourist days, five were spent in orphanages, two were spent traveling, and one “disappeared” due to the weird time change between here and there. The first three work days were spent in a Foster Home called New Day. This is a non-profit foster home that is owned and run at every level by Chinese and Americans. This foster homes exists to care for children with severe medical needs or disabilities that are too tough for the government orphanages to handle. New Day pays for heart surgeries, reconstructive surgeries, organ transplants, etc, all on donated funds. We were able to do therapy with all of the children at this facility (upwards of 50 kids) by age groups; the babies, the toddlers, the pre-schoolers, and the elementary kids (up to age 12). We also spent two hours training the nannies on how they can incorporate music into their daily routine with the children. In addition, we spent an hour with their resident “speech therapist” (she is not licensed, but she is AMAZING, and has received training from various visiting therapists), showing her how to incorporate music into her therapy with the children. The last two work days were spent at a smaller foster home called Harmony House. On the first day, we implemented about an hour of music, but there more much more pressing needs of this house that needed to be addressed. They were looking to move, and in fact, signed the lease to a new place that night. Because it needed to be a large place to house all of their babies, and it has been unoccupied, cleaning would have been a nightmare for the five ladies trying to run the house. Our mission team took the second day and cleaned their new living quarters (both stories) from top to bottom.

Haiti: August, 2011

BRIGHT Children International partnered with All God’s Children International to travel to port-Au-Prince, Haiti to serve the 50 orphans living at “Don De Dieu” (gift of God) orphanage. These children were between the ages of 4 and 18, and 75% of these children were orphaned due to natural disaster.
Because this trip was literally an extended weekend, there was not a lot of training or educating on this trip, but the two music therapist’s that traveled with BRIGHT implemented group music, first with the teenagers, and then with the older elementary kids. Time was spent simply loving on the children, and one other orphanage was visited for a short time.
Bulgaria: March, 2011

Bulgaria: March, 2011

BRIGHT presented at a conference in Sofia, Bulgaria for world Down Syndrome day. There were over 200 people in attendance, including parents of children with Down Syndrome, therapists, care providers, teachers, doctors, and orphanages workers. Parents were given simple instrument kits to use with their children at home, and gathering drums were donated to orphanage directors in attendance. While the other presenters were speaking, we spent some time with the children in child care doing interactive music. While in Sofia, we visited an orphanage called Sveti Ivan Rilski, where we visited the children for a short period of time, and donated instruments. Interactive music was not allowed.
BRIGHT also visited a safe house for women and children affected by domestic abuse in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria. They women ranged in ages from a young mom of an infant to a woman who had to be in her 80’s (at least). We implemented a variety of experiences, including a drum circle, lyric analysis, expressing feelings through instrument playing, progressive muscle relaxation, and creating a musical rainstorm. The women were receptive to us and later told the resident psychiatrist that they enjoyed the time and would like opportunities to do it again. Three girls and two boys made up the children, and one boy was there with his sister. We also spent some time speaking with the facility psychiatrist afterwards and answering questions she had. She told us a little bit about each child and how the women had a positive response to their morning music session. Everyone was happy to know that the instruments were staying at the facility and could be used when desired/needed.
Lastly, we visited an orphanage called Nezabravka in Stara Zagora. We were able to do interactive music with the children here, first with the 4 and 5 year olds, and then the 6 and 7 year olds after that. These children were typically orphaned because their parents were Gypsies and could not afford to take care of them. They received an instrument donation as well.