I had thought about doing an experience as a volunteer for a while. It was my first time travelling on my own and I admit it was not easy making up my mind but now, I think it was the right choice: every uncertainty, doubt and fear I had, completely disappeared as soon as I met the children at the Home of Charity of the Camillian Social Center Chiang Rai.
I joined this program because I wanted to help others who are in need, especially children. When I came across this center, I thought it was perfect for what I wanted to do. I love my job and I love children so what’s better than volunteering as a paediatric physiotherapist?
I have, in fact, worked as a volunteer physiotherapist at the Home of Charity’s gym. It was wonderful to be around these children: initially I thought I would have not measured up, because of my young age and little experience. I came here with the intention of helping them but I have realised that they were able to give me just as much love and hope. Each one of them, in their own uniqueness, was able to teach me something and I am talking about genuine feelings, like generosity, love towards others, altruism and cheerfulness. The thing that struck me the most was the children’ smiles: they are always able to make you smile, even with being in a worse condition than yours.
The Home of Charity is an environment where these children have a lot of environmental adjustments. It is a place specifically designed for them, where there are no architectural obstacles that impede children in a wheelchair or with a walker to move from room to an other of the facility.
Often we think that a “disabled” child is not able to carry out many activities in everyday life. In reality, it depends on the child’s will and determination, in addition to its physical structure. What I mean is that, although these children with cerebral palsy have to deal with greater difficulties (in comparison to healthy children of their age) when eating, dressing and moving and transferring onto a wheelchair, many of them have found a way to carry out everyday activities, without always needing someone to help them. Then there are obviously children who are more serious and who need maximum assistance.
What I have also liked about these children is their willingness to take part and even suggest activities during the physiotherapy treatment. There are some kids to whom you propose a game (obviously aimed at treatment) and some that, even if they don’t speak the language, they make you understand what they would like to play. During this month I have always tried to set up my treatment though the concept of “theraputical game”, after 20 minutes of stretching. With kids, physiotherapy and occupational therapy go hand in hand and often they merge.
In conclusion It has been a life-changing experience and I feel it has enriched me so much. I really wish these children all the best. I will always remember each one of their faces, smiles and the moments we spent together. They will always in my heart, wherever I’ll be. I hope I to be back soon at the Camillian Social Center.