Two Weeks in Africa

By Mardi Hatch

A few weeks ago I had a two week break from my work at Life Ready Physio South Perth and was lucky enough to travel to Tanzania with a surgical team as their physiotherapist. The trip was organised through Rafiki Surgical Missions and was one of the two trips that the organisation sends to Tanzania each year.

Rafiki Surgical Missions is a not-for-profit charity that sends qualified plastic surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses and allied therapists to volunteer their time at a hospital in Mwanza, Tanzania. They provide free surgical treatments for a wide variety of conditions including burn contractures and facial deformities.

Unfortunately in Africa, children and adults with disabilities are often excluded from school and working opportunities. They face a life of social isolation, a life without dignity. Cleft lips and palates was one of the more common conditions that we saw. A condition that a one to two hour surgery can fix and truly change a child’s life.

We were away for two weeks and in that time, 54 surgeries were successfully completed.

As the physiotherapist, my main role was in exercise prescription post surgery, splinting, walking patients, chest physiotherapy and patient transfers as well as some hands on therapy.

It was a truly incredible experience that I will never forget and one that I hope to be able to experience again.

Working with the children was unbelievably rewarding and knowing that we had helped to change their lives in such a big way was such an amazing feeling.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank the amazing team that I travelled with, as well as all of the organisers, volunteers and donors who each have a crucial role in allowing these trips to happen.

If anyone is interested in helping or donating to keep these missions possible, the following link will take you to the donations page: http://www.asanterafiki.com/?page=44

We also had a non-medical volunteer join us on the mission who wrote a daily blog during her stay with us. If anyone is interested in more details about the trip or wants to hear some of the incredible stories that we experienced, have a read at http://tanzaniarafiki.blogspot.com.au

Thanks for reading!