Frontier Madagascar works with a local healthcare partner who welcomes children from all over north-western Madagascar to undergo corrective surgeries for physical handicaps. Many have been abandoned or neglected by their families which are unable to support them due to a lack of economic resources or education on caring for the handicapped. Suffering from birth defects or deformities brought on by malnutrition or juvenile illness, they have all suffered through their short lives and have become isolated in their own homes and communities.
The physiotherapy centre gives these children a genuine second chance for a happy and successful life. They join us at the centre between the ages of 3 and 15, and after an initial consultation are sent to hospitals on the mainland. There they receive free medical attention to correct their handicaps before returning to Nosy Be to undergo rehabilitation. With the surgery mostly correcting issues relating to the legs and feet, the children require a lot of attention to establish their confidence in their new mobility and build strength in muscles many have never been able to use before. Walking, running and playing football are all going to be new experiences for many of the children you will work with at the centre, where the pristine sands of the beach provide great resistance to help build strength.
Once back at the centre the children remain in residence until they are strong enough either to be sent back to their families or moved on to local foster families if they have been abandoned. During this time they are helped into education, going to local schools and making new friends along the way.
WHAT WILL I BE DOING?
As a volunteer on the Physiotherapy Project you will work hand-in-hand with the professional and other local volunteers who currently work at the physoptherapy centre. You will help with the rehabilitation of children after they have received their corrective surgeries and provide welcome company and friendship to them as they recover.
As such this project is ideal for those with experience or qualifications in physiotherapy or paediatric medicine, or for those looking to gain experience or just make a difference. During their recovery the children are extremely fragile, and your enthusiastic support will be a fantastic encouragement for them as they find their new feet.
With many of the children too young or weak to travel and go to school many remain at the centre all day. Under-staffed and poorly resourced, you will also provide a very entertaining and invigorating distraction for the children, whether that is through encouraging sports or leading arts and crafts sessions.
While on project there may also be time to work to improve community relations by conducting outreach physiotherapy clinics and leading awareness raising sessions about disability.
Physiotherapy placement working hours can vary immensely. The key to your success will depend on how much you are willing to contribute and how hard you are able to work. With an open mind and flexible attitude you will enjoy an experience to remember, make friends for life, and gain valuable work experience on important health related programmes.