Weʼre raising £3,800 to provide physiotherapy to refugees in Greece and teach rehabilitation in Africa.
- Leeds, UK
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In September 2018 I will be leaving my job with Leeds Teaching Hospitals to spend 9 months volunteering as a physiotherapist overseas. I will spend this time working completely voluntarily for three causes I believe in. I hope that you will be able to see how amazing they are by reading my story and how far your money could go in making a difference.
In 2015, at the peak of the crisis, Europe saw the largest influx of migrants and refugees since the Second World War.
I will begin my time away in Greece and spend 3 months working with refugees, something I have been determined to do for the last few years,. Over 1.8 million refugees have arrived in Europe since 2014, mostly from war-torn Syria (UNHCR) and with the situation being as unstable as ever, this is where I want to start my work. During my time in Greece I will be based in Thessaloniki, a port city on the gulf of the Aegean. I will be working alongside a doctor and a nurse and split my time between working in a refugee camp and a street clinic, out of the back of an ambulance. During the days and evenings I will run clinics at the camp and a car park outside the main railway station, for the homeless refugees who have made the dangerous crossing and still have nowhere to live. Often patients will have various musculoskeletal injuries having walked many days to reach Greece and my work will predominantly be offering both physio and first aid/ minor injuries care for those that need it. In the camps I will also see those with established rehabilitation needs including some current residents with paraplegia and muscular dystrophy. As a longer term volunteer I will take on some of the coordinating duties for the charity I will be working under, including coordinating future volunteers to help them to continue to provide their incredible services.
Uganda has an estimated 256 physiotherapists compared to 54 000 in the UK.
In the New Year I will make my way to Africa to begin work in Uganda. In 2011 the country had 1 doctor and 13 nurses for every 10 000 people and only 86 paediatricians to serve 15 million children (1.4 million born every year). There is widespread urban imbalance with the capital housing 30% of the population playing host to 70% of the doctors. Poverty is still a huge barrier to healthcare with many seeking help from traditional healers. Communicable diseases are the leading cause of death in Uganda with women and children being most affected, it is estimated 1 million adults have HIV Aids which fuels the TB epidemic. 50% of HIV positive people have TB and 30% will eventually die as a result. The average life expectancy in 2018 is 60 (WHO). Whilst in Uganda I will predominantly work in a government hospital to provide and teach basic physiotherapy skills in order for them to continue the work after I leave. I will be based by a school so will also be able to work closely with a them to promote health education and offer outreach physiotherapy services to any of the parents and children in need.
Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world and poor sanitation and infrastructure is the likely cause of the recent plague outbreak in 2017 killing 202 people.
My final project will be based on the island of Madagascar. Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world, being ranked 8th in 2018 with an average GDP per capita of $479. Rural areas have the least access to basic health care, clean water and sanitation and as a result diarrhoeal diseases are still the leading cause of death. Since working in Leeds I have been collaborating with Opt In, a charity to share knowledge and deliver training to partner hospitals in low income countries, resulting in sustained improvements to healthcare. I will be working primarily with links established by the rehabilitation team to improve communication between different professions and engage in 1:1 teaching with the therapists to develop their clinical skills. I hope that any work completed in Madagascar can be carried forward by the Malagasy therapists and through links with Leeds Hospitals I can continue to support this going forward into the future. Their current healthcare system although improving, following periods of political unrest has a weak infra-structure and benefits from links such as those with Leeds to help them develop further.
The important bit...
In order to fund the work I will be doing I will need to rely on peoples donations. All of the work will be voluntary and the costs are just enough to cover basic costs of living. Without any middle man I will be able to take my existing skills and offer them directly where they're needed as well as teaching valuable skills to ensure sustainability once I leave. Below are some examples of just how far your money could go:
Stay up to date
To keep up-to-date with all of my work I hope to provide monthly updates and regular posts to social media as my way of thanks. By doing this I hope you will see what your money is actually contributing to, as I do it!
Twitter; Blog; Instagram
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Diana Whiteside started crowdfunding