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Projects Abroad Physiotherapy volunteer presents at the National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week in Manila

Projects Abroad Physiotherapy volunteer, Victor Lee, with a young boy who is one of his outpatients. Projects Abroad Philippines was invited to the 38th National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week where the Philippines’ first Physiotherapy volunteer, Victor Lee, presented our efforts in establishing a community-based Rehab and Disability Centre, the first of its kind in the northern part of Cebu Island.

The prestigious event, which ran from 17 to 23 July, was held at the College of Allied Rehabilitation Sciences within the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Centre in Manila, Philippines. Many university students, faculty, staff and interns were in attendance.

Kenneth Sotto, the Country Director for Projects Abroad Philippines and the driving force behind the establishment of the Physiotherapy project said the presentation went well, “I think they are impressed with the small steps that we’ve taken. The dean is also thinking about engaging their interns in our project during their summer break.”

Victor, who is from Australia and currently completing his Masters in Physiotherapy, played an integral part in establishing the programme. Not only was he the first volunteer on the project but he also worked with new patients suffering from various impairments, completed weekly house visits in the rural areas of San Remigio, established a database of patients, attended daily meetings with builders and carpenters involved in the construction of the rehabilitation centre and met with local government bodies to discuss the development of the project. “Everyday was a surprise for me, but Projects Abroad was very much on top of everything and helped tackle each obstacle one by one”, said Victor.

A volunteer teaching a patient's mother how to do physio exercisesThis was the third presentation for Victor during his four weeks as a Projects Abroad Physiotherapy volunteer in the Philippines. The first was at the Physical Therapy College in Bogo and the second presentation was for the Mayor of San Remigio, where the project is based. Victor said he wasn’t nervous at all during these presentations, "Maybe because I have a background in comedy, standing under a spotlight and making people laugh," he said. "I was very excited and honoured to do those presentations. Hopefully, I can inspire more locals and other people around the world to get on board with this project."

Having put so much of his time and effort into the project, a major concern for both Victor and Kenneth, was the sustainability of the project. They wanted to ensure the rehab centre remained open and that new, trained volunteers and staff would keep administering treatment to the children and cater to the needs of the patients.

Thankfully after his first presentation at the college in Bogo, the students were inspired and eager to be a part of this initiative. An agreement was made with the dean and six interns in their 5th year of physiotherapy education were assigned to the program. In order to spend more time with the interns, Victor extended the duration of his project by two weeks and was able to guide them, making sure they understood the purpose of the project, briefing them on each of the patients, and handing over the data he had collected.

Physiotherapy volunteer Victor Lee speaks at the National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week in the Philippines"Having local physiotherapy students on the team, was a fantastic opportunity to truly experience the local culture, to share our assessment and treatment techniques, and enhanced my clinical reasoning and treatment techniques as a physiotherapist. It also gave me a chance to learn about and understand the legislation of their public health system”, said Victor. "My mother used to be a teacher for the blind when I was young, and I was amazed by the fact that people could function freely without vision. From then on, I was inspired to explore our ‘abilities’. By becoming a physiotherapist, I could help people move better, feel stronger and live longer."

This is the aim of Projects Abroad’s Philippines Physiotherapy project: finding the right therapy approach for children with disabilities so they can become mobile in their everyday lives, and eventually integrate into their local community and enhance their overall quality of life.

Find out how you can contribute to our Physiotherapy project in the Philippines or take a look at some of our other Medical & Healthcare placements  around the world.

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