February-March 2023 | Features

Rotary unites for good

Rotary unites for good

A Rotary Foundation Global Grant is helping to support vulnerable children in one of Europe’s poorest countries.

Moldova is one of Europe’s poorest nations, where families with children living with disabilities often face insurmountable obstacles in caring and achieving full integration of their children into society.

It’s an Eastern European country few knew about until war broke out in neighbouring Ukraine where there are nearly 100,000 refugees seeking sanctuary in a small and very poor country.

In 2019, Rotary clubs in three Great Britain & Ireland districts, spearheaded by Wednesfield (D1210) in the West Midlands and Chislehurst (D1120) in South-East London, supported by German and Dutch clubs, united with the Rotary Club of Chisinau Cosmopolitan in Moldova to secure a Global Grant with Rotary International.

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The Rotary Foundation Global Grant will support a Vocational Training Team working in Moldova to improve occupational disciplines. The project was launched three years ago with a conference focused on the initial training module based on the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure.

However, the project has been held back, first through Covid which meant that occupational therapist trainers could not travel to Moldova, and then the war in Ukraine both restricted travel and also required many therapists in Moldova to dedicate their time caring for refugees.

Tony Hawks is the Founder of the Tony Hawks Centre, a care centre that aims to improve the health of children with chronic conditions who are living in socially vulnerable families.

Rotary’s multi-year Vocational Training Team (VTT) project is looking to improve the standards of occupational therapy in Moldova by drafting in qualified occupational therapists from the UK, Europe, and North America to train paediatric practitioners and medical university teams.

The project will lay down the foundations for the sustainable development of occupational therapy into Moldova.

For the children, training professional paediatric therapists will improve physical and mental healthcare. This will enable those with physical and neuro disabilities to develop motor skills, cognitive behaviour, and planning capacities, and becoming adept at performing otherwise unachievable tasks.

The bottom line is that this care will enable the children and their families to achieve far greater potential than they would otherwise expect to achieve. With the help of Rotary’s VTT programme and the training of the professionals, it is hoped Moldova will become an accredited country for occupational therapy.

The programme is being coordinated by UK charity, ChildAid to Eastern Europe, and Moldova’s foremost paediatric rehabilitation centre, the Tony Hawks Centre.

These, together with the participating Rotary clubs, are now keen to go full steam ahead with the training programme over the next couple of years. However, they are seeking your help.

The project will lay down the foundations for the sustainable development of occupational therapy into Moldova.”

Qualified paediatric occupational therapists are needed to deliver one or more of the specialist modules relating to occupational therapy, such as sensory integration, visual perception, emotional development, feeding, self-care, play, handwriting and mobility.

The training will be delivered over two to three days to paediatric therapists in Moldova. Flights, accommodation and per diem are covered by the Global Grant.

Do you know of any occupational therapists, or contacts within the profession, who may be keen to help improve young lives in Moldova? If so, please contact Martin Wilcox (RC Chislehurst and ChildAid) at: charitymanager@childaidee.org.uk

This is a wonderful opportunity for therapists to travel to a truly welcoming, and for many, culturally different country whilst working to improve the lives of children.

Celebrity support for Moldova

Story by Tony Hawks, author and comedian

I have been strongly connected to the children’s rehabilitation centre in Moldova that I’m humbled to say bears my name since I helped set it up
with the proceeds of my book “Playing the Moldovans at Tennis”.

I have seen with my own eyes the quite incredible work that the Celebrity support for Moldova dedicated therapists perform and the even more wonderful results. This is the country’s foremost such centre and the additional of occupational therapy skills will be vital in ensuring that the children receive the fullest care that they deserve.”

I have been visiting Moldova since the late 1990s and have seen much change, largely good. There is still much needed to be done for this wonderful, yet very poor country.

Rotary has done a huge amount over the years to improve the lives, from shoeboxes, to the country’s most effective sensory room at the Tony Hawks Centre, to an outdoor theatre at a children’s centre, and most recently enormous support to Ukrainians who have sought refuge in Moldova.

I hope that Rotary’s amazing commitment to Moldova will continue for many years to come.

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