By Theresia Titus
Perth-based physiotherapist Laura Saldanha has committed to a year-long volunteer assignment working at The Ruben Centre in Nairobi, Kenya.
Before setting off with the opportunity, Ms Saldanha participated in an orientation course organised by Palms Australia.
Ms Saldanha flew to Nairobi, Kenya on 3 August and told The eRecord she is staying at a secure apartment complex near Mukuru Slum.
“I felt I needed a change and volunteer work is something I have always wanted to do,” she said.
“I spoke to my mum, and she suggested that I look at the Palms Australia website.”
Ms Saldanha mentioned she first enquired in March and it was a quick process for her to be able to go to Kenya.
“When I saw the position as a Physio in Nairobi on the Palms Australia website I felt that it was perfect for me.
“I had such a strong gut feeling that this is what I was meant to do,” she added.
Ms Saldanha also revealed that Kenya holds a history within her family, which made her volunteering work even more special.
“My father was born in Kenya and hasn’t been back since he left when he was 19. It has always been a place I have wanted to spend some time in,” she said.
Mukuru Slum or Ruben Slum is an area in Nairobi’s industrial district, occupied by mostly casual labours in manufacturing industries.
There are many health-related problems in the area, and The Ruben Centre is a community organisation that supports Nairobi’s Mukuru community in quality education, health, financial and social services to children and families.
Ms Saldanha will be working with the local clinic staff to improve their skills in providing physiotherapy to children with illness, injuries and disability.
“My main goal is to educate and mentor the local staff and families so that they can be self-sufficient and confident in providing the best care possible for their community,” she said.
“I am hoping to pass on some of my physio skills to the local therapists at the Ruben Centre and act as a mentor to them and develop some screening tools which will allow for early intervention and greater outcomes for the local children.”
Ms Saldanha also hopes to inform and support the local community in preventing musculoskeletal injuries as well as developing general health and wellbeing programs.
Network Assistant at Palms Australia Kevin Wilson said Ms Saldanha had made an impression with her enthusiasm and engagement during the orientation course.
“These qualities combined with her energy and professionalism will no doubt continue during her time at the Ruben Centre, and she is sure to be an outstanding volunteer,” Mr Wilson said.
“I have committed to one year however if things are going well I am open to staying for two years,” Ms Saldanha concluded.