Depending on the needs of any given insitution, I have worked at every level:
Helping with everyday care, alongside regular carers
- As a physiotherapist’s assistant
- As medical manager
- Training and guiding staff and volunteers
- Taking sole charge of a grouphome
- Stepping in as acting children’s home director to cover people’s holidays
Whatever the description of my position, in every case I look around to find out what could be improved, for both children and carers. As I go, I offer solutions, advice and training to bring about these improvements. I provide the institution’s management with my recommendations in daily or weekly reports, a list sent towards the end of my stay, or through a lecture given to selected staff, depending on their preferences.
In these homes apart from working to increase the day to day comfort and enjoyment of life of dozens of babies, I have been instrumental in the survival of several dozen children who were in critical condition. Also have I brought about drastic, life-changing improvements in the lives of several dozen more children by improving their mobility through physiotherapy, weaning babies with dysphagia and/or oral aversion off feeding tubes after longterm dependence, discovering a wrong diagnosis, or by overseeing a change in medication resulting in less sedation.
I have several times been offered the opportunity to set up and run a long-term care facility in China. However while tempted and flattered by these offers, I declined. I prefer to continue doing short-term projects in various locations. Allowing me to improve quality of care and quality of life in many children’s homes, and come across new situations along the way to learn from myself. I believe that in this way the impact of what I do will reach more children. I would, however be quite happy helping anyone in the start up stage of a new children’s home if asked. Possibly even taking initial charge, while training someone to take over from me along the way. The basic thought of Orphanage Project is that what I do while I’m visiting a project is not nearly as important as what people there are able to do after I have left.
In Brazil I was presented with the opportunity to do a series of short internships at CAMS (Complex for multidisciplinary health treatment)/APAE (Association of Parents and Friends of Exceptionals), which provides rehabilitation treatment for children with learning disabilities, physical disabilities, multiple disabilities and autism. I spent time there with experts in the fields of:
- occupational therapy
- speech therapy
- medical – consisting of neurology, paediatrics, genetics, psychiatry.
What I enjoy most about what I do, is the exchange of learning new things in every location, and teaching people things that are new to them. That is what makes it all worthwhile. That and seeing children happy!
An insight into some of the work done in China: