A portable adjusting table, some basic Spanish, and a big heart for service – these are the essentials that one must take on Life Chiropractic College West’s El Salvador Outreach Program. Last week, these essentials proved fruitful, as thousands of people in El Salvador responded to the offer of free chiropractic care. From the poverty stricken to the athletes to the leadership of the country, all were served with a great sense of purpose. And so the name of chiropractic, quiropráctica, continues to grow in El Salvador.
Dr. Juan Campos, native of El Salvador and founder of this program, addressed the 17 D.C.’s and 33 senior interns at the outset of the week saying, “Begin each day by thanking God for the abundance he has given and ask that you might share in this abundance.” These words were drawn from Dr. Campos’ eighteen years of chiropractic outreach to the country, in which he has witnessed a contagious growth of quiropráctica. Abundance is certainly the best word to describe what occurred over the course of the week. There was an abundance of giving, growth, and purpose.
The structure of this program is based on relationships with various sectors of society that have developed over the years. These relationships help determine where the most pressing needs are in El Salvador and what locations can best address them. Life West’s outreach program coordinator, Dr. Shawn Dill, worked diligently with Dr. Campos to solidify a diversity of strategic sites such as the market, City Hall, the Supreme Court, and the Minister of the Economy. Most of these sites are located in San Salvador, however, the outreach effort reached outlying areas through a group based in the town of San Vicente. A total of 12 sites were in prolific operation last week, with one to two D.C.’s and two to four senior interns serving at each site.
One of the larger sites, at City Hall, had the privilege of sharing chiropractic with several individuals from El Salvador’s Olympic gymnastic team. Dr. Robert De Bonis, head D.C. of the site, shared the story with fellow students and D.C.’s on Wednesday evening during dinner time, expressing that this is yet another stride that chiropractic has made in El Salvador. He explained, “An Olympic gymnast came in with a letter requesting care that was written by the President on her behalf. I proceeded to see her and then invited the rest of the team to come tomorrow. We’ll see what happens.” And it happened. The next day, a high ranking athletic director brought in several more Olympic athletes, along with his family as well. Both Dr. De Bonis and his son David, who is currently in clinic at LCCW, delivered care to these athletes to ensure optimum function of their bodies.
Inspirational stories such as this were told nightly as the outreach team relaxed over their hard-earned dinners. In fact, there were so many stories early on in the week that a separate meeting was held post-dinner to share these stories. Ultimately, the value was that the team was gaining a greater capacity to serve as these stories were shared. Hence, amidst the challenges of explosive growth in patient numbers and delivering quality care, the performance remained excellent. For example, at the public health clinic site where Drs. Dill and Campos provided upper cervical specific care, 275 patients were seen within a period of four hours, having both their pre and post scans assessed.
As mentioned earlier, the structure of this program is based on relationships, and it is exciting to consider what may result from these relationships going forward. Last February, during the last visit to El Salvador, LCCW president Dr. Gerry Clum joined Drs. Dill and Campos to meet with political leaders to discuss the development of chiropractic in the country. A week of free chiropractic care can reach thousands, but questions remain about creating sustainable mechanisms for the presence of chiropractic. On the horizon, objectives might include support from the government for chiropractic licensure, emphasis on chiropractic education, and a growing relationship with LCCW for empowerment of these objectives.
At an educational level, LCCW is already displaying its service-based commitment to the progress of quiropráctica in El Salvador by creating the Dr. Juan Campos Scholarship. One interested student, Jose Rigoberto Lopez, plans to apply for admission to LCCW. He expressed a sincere thanks to the outreach group last week, saying that he was humbled by the opportunity. As one who is resident to El Salvador and possesses a great care for his fellow countrymen, Lopez plans to make an intentional effort to provide affordable care upon his return. Empowering citizens of El Salvador such as Lopez with the gift of chiropractic is in essence, a gift that keeps on giving.
One thing is for sure – this program will continue to pour hearts of service to further quiropráctica in El Salvador. A truth that was evident last week for interns and DC’s alike was that there is great reward in serving. Indeed, there is abundance in serving. For some, it was the smiles offered by each patient. For others, it was the pleasure of giving someone something that they would not otherwise get were it not offered in complete, utter service. And yet for others, it was simply gaining perspective.
Do we have a need to do more outreach? Absolutely. That is why service is one of Life West’s facets in it’s mission statement – to give, to love and to serve. This outreach program is an outpouring of the intent of this mission. So, the question that remains then is, not whether you are going to reach out, but where and when you are going to reach out. The next El Salvador Outreach is being planned for June 2006. If you are interested in reaching out to the people of El Salvador with quiropráctica, please contact Dr. Shawn Dill at