Grace's Story

Prosthetic and Orthotics Volunteering in Cambodia

It’s safe to say that many of us miss travelling and being able to experience new countries and cultures. Unfortunately studying and interning abroad may be a distant possibility for us. For those who are itching to get out there and see what volunteering abroad is like, luckily we still have a library of stories to tell from Development Together’s past participants. In this blog we look back at our June 2018 Health Internship in Cambodia and follow our past participant, Grace as she describes her internship experience in Phnom Penh.

Meet Grace (far left), a Development Together Past Participant who took part in the 2018 Prosthetics and Orthotics Internship whilst in her final semester of her Masters studies. She was kind enough to share with us her story and how it has helped her kick-stark her career as a Prosthetist/Orthotist.

Hi my name is Grace, and I am a Development Together alumnus and now a certified prosthetist/ Orthotist from La Trobe University. In 2018 as a third year Masters of clinical prosthetics and Orthotics student I had the amazing opportunity to experience prosthetics and orthotics on a very different level to that seen within the Australian University program, by accompanying a team of five other allied health students and Development Together Managing Director Kristy to Cambodia. The country and story of Cambodia reminds me of a mosaic, a piece of art created from many fractured and broken pieces. Through war, genocide and pain many of the khmer people have been hurt both mentally and physically, with approximately 5% of the entire population having a physical disability requiring prosthetic or orthotic intervention. During my time in Cambodia and working alongside staff as a prosthetist/ Orthotist at Veterans International Cambodia (VIC) I learnt something from every Prosthetist/ Orthotist, client or Prosthetic/ Orthotic technician that I met. Each and every one of these teachings and skills has had an impact on making me the Orthotist I am today. Post graduating from university in 2019 it was my experience with Development Together and these skills that provided me with a unique interview and resume, giving me the confidence to step out into the world as a graduate Orthotist, taking on a project orthotic role at Perth Children’s Hospital for the start of 2020. I will be forever thankful for the lessons that Cambodia and Development Together gave me, and will forever use my experience in Cambodia to remind me to be the best Orthotist/ Prosthetist I possibly can be, because you never know what your client has been through, but no matter what they deserve the best care possible.

 

 

– Grace (Masters of Clinical Prosthetics and Orthotics)

So, what can you expect to see at the Partner Site in Phnom Penh Cambodia?

This placement is situated in a rehabilitation facility about 30 minutes from downtown Phnom Penh. Clients that visit the clinic include infants, children and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities. Clients present with conditions such as; amputations (upper and lower limbs), cerebral palsy, arthrogryposis, femoral head necrosis, neurological disorders, spinal injuries, torticollis, and congenital deformities. Our partners Veterans International Cambodia place an emphasis on empowering and enabling their clients to be the best they can be.

What experience would you expect to receive?

The variety of presentations is enormous, there is incredible technical and cultural experiences to be had. Prosthetic and Orthotics Volunteers will see clients with amputations (upper and lower limbs), cerebral palsy, arthrogryposis, femoral head necrosis, CVA, neurological disorders, spinal injuries, torticollis, and congenital deformities. With support from local staff and professionally trained P&O and Physio staff, Volunteers can also get hands on skills and be involved from day one in assessment, treatment and identifying the best home therapies.

What do you do on a Prosthetic and Orthotics Placement?

Each team works collaboratively in the assessment and treatment of their clients. As part of this placement Volunteers will have the opportunity to go on a Community Visit, take a tour of the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics, and have a three day weekend to relax in Siem Reap where you will visit the famous temples of Angkor Wat.

Volunteering in Cambodia has been a way our Health Students and Professionals have been able to support and contribute to disadvantaged communities. As international travel is still uncertain for the near future, we can only provide what we can remotely.

We are currently in the consultative phase with universities and our partners on how we can provide opportunities for students as well as help our Not-For-Profit Partners who are struggling during this time.

If you’d like to learn more about our Cambodia projects, visit developmenttogether.com/location/cambodia

 

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