Volunteering at Gentle Hands Orphanage

Bobby Qureshi UCO Clinic Manila

UCO Clinicial Tutor Bobby Qureshi has recently returned from a trip to Manila, where he was able to volunteer his osteopathic skills at a local orphanage. Bobby tells us a little about his time there, and why he feels volunteering skills abroad can be a rewarding and enriching experience for both patient and practitioner.

"I recently returned from a voluntary trip to Gentle Hands orphanage in Manila, The Philippines. The orphanage cared for many children with complex medical conditions and also those who had been exposed to various forms of abuse. Having previously volunteered my clinical skills in both Kenya and India, I was keen to further expand the accessibility of osteopathy to communities with limited access to healthcare. I made contact with the charity director at the Gentle Hands orphanage and quickly arranged to visit.

On arrival at the orphanage, it became immediately apparent that the orphanage had very limited access to medical care. I treated children aged between six weeks old and 10 years of age, who were suffering from a wide variety of conditions including microcephaly, cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, asthma and Potts disease, as well as children who were severely immune compromised. I also treated children with traumatic joint injuries and a boy with post-surgical knee pain.

Overall the complaints I was treating were very different to those I would typically see in my own private practice or within the UCO clinic. Many of the clinical presentations were systemic in nature and lacked the depth of case details that we would normally receive here in the UK. This required me to adapt my clinical decision making and apply a slightly different approach to evaluating the patient presentations.

Treating children in the orphanage also required a great deal of adaptation in terms of my technique application, positions of treatment and communication. As you can see from some of the pictures, I also had a few little helpers who were keen to get involved - maybe some budding osteopaths?

The responses to treatment were fantastic and immediate results were seen, which surprised many of the staff who were not hugely familiar with osteopathy before my visit. The experience highlighted the value of osteopathy within medically diverse and challenging settings, with such little access to healthcare.

My time at Gentle Hands was eye-opening and so inspiring. Since returning from my trip I have begun plans to return to the orphanage later this year. I am currently in the process of setting up a multi-disciplinary team that can, together, provide effective medical care in Manila. The orphanage is desperate to set up a medical centre / hospital for those with no access to medical care and I hope to be part of that. To be continued..

I strongly believe that we are capable of making a huge difference in the world with our osteopathic skills. To anyone wishing to do something similar, I suggest doing your research to identify places that medical aid would be most beneficial. So many people need our help!

It's easy to become accustomed to the common presentations that we see in our daily practices, whilst forgetting the scope that we have with our clinical skills. Remember that your hands are so valuable and can make such a difference to people's lives."

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