Physiotherapy for children

650. Anna Vines (Sierra Leone)

A British physiotherapist is supporting the development of physiotherapy in Sierra Leone.

Anna Vines first came to the country, which has been deeply affected by Civil War, disease and malnutrition, in 2011. As a volunteer with Mercy Ships, she provided much needed care to people with disabilities.  She was so profoundly affected by that experience that she decided to remain in Sierra Leone to continue to provide specialist care to communities, working through local NGOs, to augment the efforts of the handful of qualified Physiotherapists practicing in the whole of Sierra Leone.

She is currently the Program Director of ‘Enable the Children’, a program of World Hope International, providing community-based physiotherapy to children with conditions such as cerebral palsy, addressing their physical needs and tackling the stigma around caring for children with disabilities.

In a personal letter to Anna, Prime Minister Theresa May said: 

“Your work in Sierra Leone is transforming the lives of local children. The specialist care you provide is not only addressing their physical needs, but also tackling the stigma of looking after disabled children.”

Anna said:

“I am honoured to receive a Point of Light award. I share this award with the Enable the Children team, who work tirelessly to improve the lives of our more than 580 children with disabilities here in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Our children are a highly stigmatised and vulnerable population, often hidden away from the rest of the world. We meet their families at home, where we can encourage and teach them how to do exercises and positioning with the kids. We also provide locally made equipment to help our children gain maximum function and independence. We work with community leaders to educate them in how to support these children, particularly by helping them facilitate sustainable family support groups, which we hope in time will unite the families and communities against the stigmatisation of their children.” 

Guy Warrington, British High Commissioner said: 

“The role of British NGOs and volunteers in helping Sierra Leone to recover from Ebola and rebuild the nation after the civil war cannot be overstated. Over 250 British NGOs operate here, as do countless British volunteers. Anna provides an excellent example of this volunteering spirit and works in difficult circumstances to provide assistance to the disabled in Freetown. She is a worthy recipient of this award.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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