Rockhurst University Students put Learning into Action through Trip to Ecuador

Students from Rockhurst University’s occupational and physical therapy programs recently traveled to Guayaquil, Ecuador for the 10th time this August. The annual trip began as a University immersion trip to Ecuador and included a tour of Damien House. Damien House “serves as an inpatient home and outpatient clinic for those in the area with Hansen’s disease.” Hansen’s disease is more commonly known as leprosy. Although the disease is not common in most of the world, there are still areas where the disease is prevalent and those who suffer from it are forced to live their lives away from their family and friends. While touring Damien House, first year students were approached by Damien House founder Sister Annie Credidio to return and help during their next visit instead of just a tour.

Each summer the occupational therapy students and the physical therapy students travel to Ecuador to serve as volunteer staff for the Damien House’s on-site clinic. The trip has such success partly because it is an experience unlike anything that one could experience in the US. Students must break through language and cultural barriers in an area that is characterized by poverty. Sarah Berry, who is in the second year of her physical therapy doctoral program, spoke of being placed in this situation. “We are constantly learning new things, and this trip allows us to gain real-life experience with everything that we have learned. We may be put into situations in which we are uncomfortable or situations in which we can’t get past the language barrier, but these situations are the ones that are going to allow us to grow as a person and as physical therapist or occupational therapist.”

The students brought supplies, worked one-on-one with patients to help them cope with their disease, and helped “patients adapt in ways that allow them to perform everyday tasks like tying their shoes and using utensils to eat with greater ease.” By the end of the trip, the group had seen about 100 patients and had a new perspective of what it will be like as a physical therapist or an occupational therapist.

You can read more about Rockhurst’s service trip here.

Catholic Relief Services Responds to Ecuador Earthquake

On April 16, 2016, Ecuador endured a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. According to Michigan Technological University, this type of ‘major’ earthquake only occurs an estimated twenty times a year, as opposed to the ‘strong’ earthquakes, which occur an estimated 100 times a year. Catholic Relief Services (CRS) reports that this is “one of the most powerful in Latin America over the last two decades,” and has taken the lives of at least 500 people.

Many towns in the affected area are experiencing power outages, lack of running water, and the devastation of coastal infrastructure. In response, CRS has been directing its efforts towards meeting the immediate needs of remote areas that have not yet received assistance. Their work currently includes bringing clean water, temporary shelter, food, and living supplies to those in need. Sanitation and hygiene will also be provided, so as to prevent the spread of disease.

Ecuador is in desperate need of assistance and any contribution counts. Anyone can donate as an individual or set up a fundraising campaign with their campus, school, or parish.  Be sure to check out other ways to respond, and join us as we pray:


How is your college or university contributing to assisting Ecuador? Let us know! 

Food For Thought Friday: Pope Francis Addresses Higher Education

Food for Thought Friday: On July 7, Pope Francis traveled to the Catholic University of Ecuador for an encounter with “The World of Schools and Universities.” The meeting included songs, prayers, and testimonies, and concluded with an address by the Holy Father.

In his address, Pope Francis posed some challenging questions to those involved with education:

“My question to you, as educators, is this: Do you watch over your students, helping them to develop a critical sense, an open mind capable of caring for today’s world? A spirit capable of seeking new answers to the varied challenges that society sets before us? Are you able to encourage them not to disregard the world around them? Does our life, with its uncertainties, mysteries and questions, find a place in the university curriculum or different academic activities? Do we enable and support a constructive debate which fosters dialogue in the pursuit of a more humane world?…I also have a question for you, dear students. You are Ecuador’s present and future, the seedbed of your society’s future growth. Do you realize that this time of study is not only a right, but a privilege? How many of your friends, known or unknown, would like to have a place in this house but, for various reasons, do not? To what extent do our studies help us feel solidarity with them?”


Read the full transcript of his address here.