WHAT DOES THE PROJECT DO?
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, who are unable to support them as a result of 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 other local volunteers and staff 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.
This project is therefore ideal for those with qualifications in physiotherapy or paediatric medicine. 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 as they are, 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.
Volunteer Itinerary* – Madagascar Community Projects
Frontier Madagascar currently delivers a range of different projects working with local partners around the island of Nosy Be. All of our projects are based in the town of Hellville and the villages that surround our field research camp in Ambalahonko. If you’re on a community project you’ll be based at our volunteer house in Hellville during the week but you’ll transfer to the camp on Friday to enjoy some free time with the rest of the Frontier team and explore the area where our research projects operate. We come back on Saturday morning, and then have Sunday as our day off when we can go and relax on the beach, have a dunk at the waterfalls or enjoy any number of other beautiful spots around the island.
Whether you’re a volunteer on our construction, teaching or physiotherapy programme you’ll always be a member of team unity and as such you might well find yourself getting involved in some aspects of other concurrent projects. The times in the schedule are likely to change and will differ depending on the phase of the project cycle upon your arrival, but to give you a little taste of what life may be like, you can see a standard timetable for a day in the life of a community volunteer below.
06:15 to 07:15 - Up and out, school and other project activities start at 7:30! After a leisurely scrum for the shower we have a communal breakfast and get ourselves prepared for the day.
07:30 to 11:20 - Morning activities, which could entail teaching at our partner primary school, doing menial tasks with our other partners or looking after handicapped children.
11:20 to 14:30 - Lunch time! During the heat of the day Madagascar shuts down for lunch. If you’re in town we’ll eat together at the volunteer house, but if you’re away at an out of town location lunch will be provided at your workplace.
1430 to 1630 - Afternoon sessions of lessons - teaching, building etc.
1630 to 1800 - Break time when we can plan our activities for the week or just kick back with a book.
1800 to 2000 - In our evening classes we teach English, deliver health awareness sessions and share some games with the folks at the local youth club.
2030 to 2200 - Dinner and a movie at the volunteer house as we unwind after the day.
2200 to 2230 - Scrum for an evening shower, brushing the gnashers and off to bed! Zao dia kajo (I’m tired)…
*This itinerary should only be considered as an example of the kind of activities and timescales to expect. Actual itineraries may vary depending on the season and the requirements of the project.