Pre-departure preparation for OPT IN (the Overseas Partnering and Training Initiative) volunteer health trainers working in Madagascar
Development and delivery of a bespoke half day training course for health workers going to work as volunteer trainers in Madagascar for the first time.
Using her knowledge of the specific requirements of delivering training in a developing country, Simone advised OPT IN on the resources and information necessary to produce an induction pack for new volunteers. She advised on training expectations and helped identify likely barriers to learning amongst the Malagasy trainees, along with strategies to deal with these. Her training course for health workers covered an introduction to Malagasy culture, how to behave appropriately and respectfully with different stakeholder groups, health and safety in a low-resource tropical environment, and personal safety in the Malagasy context. She also translated some of the training materials prepared by OPT IN volunteers into appropriate, accessible French.
OPT IN’s training has been extremely successful and has provided Malagasy doctors and physiotherapists with much-needed skills in Rehabilitation Medicine, still rare within the health system in Madagascar, and led to the establishment of Rehabilitation Medicine as a medical speciality and the creation of the professional association AMPR-Mada (the Association of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine of Madagascar). Being safe and confident during their mission, the UK volunteers derived significant benefit from the experience of working through interpreters and outside of their comfort zone in a challenging, low-resource environment. They gained professional confidence and self-esteem and reported heightened motivation, deep respect for their Malagasy counterparts and a new appreciation of their working conditions in the UK.