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The College of St. Scholastica

CSS Doctor of Physical Therapy alum Alyssa Baltes volunteered her skills overseas in Uganda

When you ask her why she’s living and working in Uganda, CSS Doctor of Physical Therapy alum Alyssa Baltes doesn’t mince words.

“Many doors to incredible opportunities remained closed, but I continued to pray, and eventually heard God’s call to serve overseas,” Baltes said.

With passion like that, it’s not difficult to understand why she would pick up and move to another continent. That’s exactly what she’s done in committing for a full year to a group called Ekisa Ministries.

“Their [Ekisa’s] vision is to empower and support families to care for their children with disabilities, and to also bridge the gap when families are not able to care for them,” Baltes said. “I love that Ekisa desires to keep children with family members whenever able, including supporting families with education, counseling and many other things when appropriate.”

Working in Uganda

With Ekisa — a Ugandan word that translates to “grace” —  Baltes has had the opportunity to work alongside professionals and hone her craft as she treats an underserved population.

“My ‘PT’ work day is very similar to an American clinic routine,” Baltes said. “Mondays we work with kids in the community care program who come from all over the area for therapy. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday we work with kids at Ekisa and then on Wednesdays we go out to a school and a clinic we partner with to meet kids who live further away.”

Baltes said the transition to life in another country and culture has been relatively smooth, but not without an adjustment period.

“The most difficult part to living abroad is adjusting to another culture,” Baltes said. “I think it’s human nature to want to be in control and do things your way; it’s both a great challenge and a learning experience to be subject to a culture and process different than my own.”

St. Scholastica springboard

According to Baltes, her training at St. Scholastica was the essential foundation needed for her work abroad — not only the education, but also the support needed to take a leap of faith.

“I feel confident in my knowledge base that was given at St. Scholastica, as well as incredibly supported by faculty and staff that I still remain in contact with,” Baltes said. “They helped me network, fundraise and provided so much encouragement during my transition and even after I arrived in Uganda.”