Physiotherapist traves from Denmark to help Samoa

By Natasha Schmidt ,

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In Samoa, there are multiple volunteers from different organizations doing wonderful things to improve the status of the country. 

One of them is Jeanette Svendsen from Denmark. 

She is volunteering with Projects Abroad, which is an organization that has placements all over the world with different projects and categories that focuses on helping others in need with free service. 

Svendsen has just recently finished her education in Denmark as a physiotherapist. She has done projects for Projects Abroad that involve physiotherapists in both Cambodia and now Samoa.

“I work in a team that is doing outreach,” she said. 

“That means that they get referenced from people that need help, and then drive around the whole island to visit families who have children who are physical handicapped. 

 “They do a lot of different stuff with the families. They teach the children so they can go to school, they try to teach them sign language, they do work as a social worker and they are working as a physiotherapeutic care. My work with this team is like a consulate. I am there to guide them and their work.”

The treatment here is very different from Denmark. 

In Denmark you offer the help to people, and if they don’t participate in the treatment or doesn’t spend enough time for the help they are offered, the treatment can get taken away from them. 

That is not the same procedure they have in Samoa.

“In Samoa you offer them help so they have the opportunity to say yes or no to the treatment they offer, but if the families aren’t home or if they don’t have the proper time for the treatment it doesn’t have any consequences. It is more on the families’ grounds then on the processors premises,” she said.

 “I didn’t expect that the treatment was so much on the families ground.” 

“I expected that the treatment was more the families responsibility, that it is their job as well to make the treatment happen so the child can evolve and become better, just like in Denmark. But instead it is the other way around. In Samoa it is the team’s responsibility that the treatment happens.”

Is there something you wished were different here, something that maybe could make the treatment better?

“I wish the teachers, physiotherapists, social workers e.t.c got a higher social status and authority in the communities such like doctors,” she said.

“Maybe then the families get the feeling that the people who are coming are experts in the area and know what they are talking about. So every time they try to explain a method to the parents that would we helpful for their child, the parents would rely more on the method and rely more on other professional groups that deal with health besides doctors.”

Svendsen is volunteering in Samoa for the next two weeks.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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