Volunteer physiotherapists and occupational therapists required in Cambodia
This project is a well-respected non-government organisation (NGO). They won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for their campaigns to abolish landmines. They specialise in the rehabilitation of disabled Cambodians back into normal life. Some of these people are land mine or polio victims; some have been involved in traffic accidents or suffer from clubfoot, tuberculosis, stroke and muscular skeletal conditions.
The three clinics in Cambodia provide prostheses, orthoses, wheelchairs and other mobility devices, as well as physiotherapy, occupational therapy and rehabilitative services to people with disabilities.
The project also provides community follow up services to guarantee its patients comprehensive care and offers them small business grants in order to assist their income generation.
The Phnom Penh based centre is the largest and provincial sites are situated in Prey Veng and Kratie provinces. You would have the choice of basing yourself in Phnom Penh or the provinces. For many volunteers it has provided a great opportunity to work in rural Cambodia.
The project also runs training programmes so that people with disabilities can learn a useful skill that will allow them to earn a living when they return to their villages. These include learning English, computer skills, art skills, mechanics, making wheelchairs and silk weaving.
Conditions are more basic than the UK but good by Cambodian standards. There is an outside games/sports area, gait analysis area and a Khmer house designed by a therapist and used to demonstrate OT.
A volunteering opportunity suitable for part and fully qualified occupational therapists and physiotherapists
Read Laura’s review of her time as a volunteer occupational therapist
All project centres are fully staffed by Cambodian trained physiotherapists and prosthetists/orthotists. However, there are hardly any Cambodian occupational therapists working in Cambodia. In the past ten years the needs of the patients have been changing and the physiotherapy skills required have advanced. In order to manage these needs, further training is required.
Qualified occupational therapists and physiotherapists are needed to support the patients and also to begin teaching skills to local staff. This might involve setting up systems to diagnose patients, carrying out proper treatment, offering them support at home and recording all of this properly. This would be done within a team of young physiotherapists, so you would empower local staff.
Gap year volunteers would assist the physiotherapists and have the opportunity to teach ‘disabled’ sports and games. This is considered to be an important part of the rehabilitation process and also help the staff with their English.
This project provides enormous scope for gap year and career break volunteers interested in volunteering with disabled Cambodians from poor, rural backgrounds.
Trained and senior physiotherapists and occupational therapists assist the disabled patients and importantly provide guidance to junior Khmer therapists. Qualified but inexperienced volunteers would be supervised by local staff but provide extra capacity, energy and contemporary knowledge to the project.
Although the project is in part about reducing the workload of local staff, it is also about exchanging new ideas and enhancing the skills of local staff.
Read Laura's account as a volunteer occupational therapist in rural Cambodia
Everything is really fantastic here. My project is absolutely amazing, the people are wonderful and it's been very rewarding already, Student, Cambodia