Posts Tagged 'wheelchairs'

Testing – round 2

I joined the rest of my team in sunny Stellenbosch on Sunday morning and reviewed the materials for the second pilot of the training of trainers of the WHO Wheelchair Service Training packages.  Participants began to trickle in from Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Burkina, Jordan, Canada and the US; twelve participants to learn how to train managers of rehabilitation services to either start, improve and/or expand wheelchair services.  Another group of nine learned to become trainers of intermediate wheelchair services (those that are for people whose bodies need to be supported in a wheelchair).

I joined my co-observer, the same as in Nairobi a few months ago, to see whether the improvements we had made after the first pilot, some months ago, were indeed improvements. We had two new trainers to deliver the package as per our instructions and it was them we were observing; one trainer from South Africa and another from Zimbabwe. It was a fabulous team of trainers and, by and large, of participants.

The training took place at the Western Cape Rehabilitation Centre, requiring a daily 45 minute shuttle between Stellenbosch and the center. Since it is located at the edge of Capetown in an area where one should not drive after dark, we were under considerable pressure to end the packed days in time so that we could debrief with the trainers and observers and share our learnings. We never managed to get out before dark.

As a result our days were very long, often arriving back at the hotel at 8PM or sometimes even later, having left the hotel in the morning at 7AM . After the two days of core training participants were given assignments to try out sessions from the management training to get a taste for the material and demonstrate the concepts taught the first two days.

They were quite anxious about the practice sessions. We offered to be available after hours, which sometimes meant till 10:30PM. Then there was the requirement, for us observers, to write our daily observation notes about each of the sessions every evening. I was always too tired, pushing the task ahead of me. And so the intense and long days from the previous week continued. When I filled in my timesheet for the two weeks (New York and Capetown) I had clocked 170 hours in a two week period that demands only 80 hours.


We completed the two day Training of Trainers core curriculum for wheelchair service provision on Tuesday. We are working in two adjacent rooms in parallel. Day one and two were the same; after that we diverged. I am in the group of trainees who will be training managers of rehab centers that already do or are thinking about wheelchair services. Our sister group next door is training trainers to conduct the technical/clinical part of the training package. The last three days of the week are for training practicum. We divided the management training sessions into sections and everyone gets three shots at doing the real thing, with ample support and feedback from us, more experienced trainers.

We have a remarkable group of very passionate people, some with considerable experience. And so we are going through the sessions much faster than I am used to, just recently in Laos but also in Mongolia, Cambodia and the Philippines. Confidence is rising by the day. On Friday we will explore the variations on stakeholder meetings that are supposed to move the wheelchair agenda forward in a country. At the end of this week we will have expanded the number of people in developing countries who can take the baton in this expansive relay race.

Over lunch I heard the creation story of this wheelchair movement. People inside the story are sometimes impatient with the speed of things. For me as an outsider it is an extraordinary story of building critical mass, mobilizing and aligning people in just a couple of decades. It is a story of leadership if ever I saw one. A story of building, one by one a worldwide movement aimed to give mobility and freedom (to do whatever you want to do) to children, caregivers and adults who are currently carried by their parents, stuck in backrooms or lingering in hospitals. I am a latecomer in this movement but so very happy and proud to be inside now.

October 2018
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