AFOPA member and Occupational Therapist, Ms Merlin Nathan, reports back on her recent visit to Lebanon, 26-29 March 2016, with the Palestine Children's Relief Fund (PCRF).
The first two days in Lebanon was a time warp for us. We were back in Lebanon after five years' absence and remembering our days, many years ago, as fledgling volunteers screening visually impaired patients together again, reaffirming our bonds, purpose and sense of connectedness.
I worked with the physiotherapist, Hayan Mashareq, at the Syrian American Medical Centre. This was a quite unique experience, as during the last 8 to 10 years I have worked mainly as a mentor to local Occupational Therapists, as the profession’s role has grown in recognition in Palestine.
Hayan, assisted by a physiotherapy aide, treated 52 patients that week, from babies to adults with conditions ranging from musculoskeletal (such as scoliosis) tendon rupture, to neurological (such as Erb’s Palsy and hemiparesis).
It was a learning experience for both of us as therapists. I was able to provide information, knowledge and expertise at an interdisciplinary level for an enthusiastic and eager professional colleague.
Our hard-working colleague at the Palestine Children's Relief Fund (PCRF), Mahmoud Al Hajj, a social worker, ably assisted us with translation.
Professional development opportunities and networking is limited for health professionals in the region. The sharing of information and resources, including profession-led websites, were provided and appreciated by our friends working on the ground.
Evidence-based practice as a concept was discussed and resources were shown. New perspectives in treatment of musculoskeletal issues were discussed and demonstrated.
Possibilities such as case discussions via email and Skype, as ongoing support options, were offered.
Last but not least, the continued support of our members at the Australian Friends of Palestine Association (AFOPA) is acknowledged for funding resources and equipment for our visit.
Ms Merlin Nathan
26-29 March 2016
> Read PCRF article on Merlin Nathan's working visit to Lebanon.