Prosthetics & Orthotics Volunteers: A First For Samarthya

Last year, I was at Hodgson Orthotics in Coquitlam to collaborate on a shared client’s scoliosis brace. I mentioned that I was heading off to India to volunteer, and joking-not-jokingly said, “I’m heading to India, anyone feel like coming with me?”.

Before I knew it, the ball was rolling and Yvonne Jeffreys (instructor at the BCIT Prosthetics & Orthotics Program and orthotist extraordinaire) was arranging a student placement for the second year BCIT students. Shane Bates and Malena Rapaport jumped at the opportunity to travel and volunteer abroad, all while completing their required clinical hours!

We quickly realized that it would be best to have a team stationed in Koppal and one in Deodurg/Raichur to spread the knowledge and provide the best working conditions for all four volunteers. We soon recruited Jenny Billett, a prosthetist working on the east coast, to be the other supervisor for the placement.

Soon after arriving in Koppal, the teams split up: Yvonne and Malena stayed in Koppal, and Shane and Jenny made the bumpy 5-hour journey to Deodurg. This is the first time the workshops have ever had technically skilled volunteers, so their contributions, suggestions, and insights were invaluable. In short (but kinda long), here’s what they did over 4 jam-packed weeks:

  • The two teams observed their respective workshop processes and made suggestions to improve workflow and safety
  • Jenny and Malena created floorplan suggestions to renovate Koppal and Deodurg workshopsIMG_4785
  • Ashok, Basavaraj, and Muttana shared their knowledge so the team learned about how to create aids and appliances in rural India using available supplies
  • Shane gave an inservice on how to complete a thorough initial assessment, combining BCIT and Samarthya approachesIMG_4731
  • Malena facilitated a group brainstorming activity to discuss four categories of concerns in the workshop – procedures, layout, resources, topics for learning. These will be the foundation for future changesIMG_4768
  • Yvonne created a shared online folder and uploaded many resources for the staff to access, including device design flowcharts, manufacturing guidelines, and more
  • Lengthy discussions with the local workers helped come up with a training plan for new technicians and assistants
  • They identified equipment and tools that would improve efficiency, and last but certainly not least…
  • They contacted their generous networks and received bags of donated tools and raised an astounding $5635 that will be going toward workshop renovations, equipment, and training!

A massive ‘dhanyavadagalu’ to Yvonne, Jenny, Shane, and Malena for everything!


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