Medical Santo inspires hope and change in Vanuatu

In the communities of Northern Vanuatu, barriers for people living with a disability are being broken down through the Churches of Christ Medical Santo Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) program.

Based at the Churches of Christ Medical Santo clinic, the grass roots program is supported by Churches of Christ in Queensland through the Australian Aid: Friendship Grant. The $60,000 investment continues to provide a sustainable and innovative solution to enhance the wellbeing of people living with disabilities and their families.

The CBR program addresses the difficulties of people living with disabilities and facilitates improved access to public health services, schools and employment opportunities.

Spearheaded by Churches of Christ Medical Santo with the assistance of two Queensland volunteer physiotherapists, Ben and Ros Aspinall, the program trains and supports four local workers in disability care to provide ongoing advice, and facilitate relationships with local service providers and government departments to help them achieve their goals.

“The program works with local schools, health providers and vocational programs to ensure they are accessible and supportive to the person living with a disability and their family,” Ben said.

“We want people living with a disability to become members of the community and have the confidence and support to pursue goals of access, faith and rehabilitation,” Ros said.

“To achieve a sustainable model, we trained local people to increase their capacity and play a lead role in continuing the facilitation of this program within the community of Vanuatu.  

“The purpose of employing locals for this role is to build their skills and become familiar with the context of what service is needed, and be the communicator, facilitator and advocates for those living with a disability,” Ben said.

“Our aim is to make this program sustainable by providing ongoing training and support to our four CBR workers until it can continue without our guidance,” Ros said.

As the program continues, community acceptance is driven by fostering hope and a support network for the person living with a disability and their carer.

Robert* and his mother are some of many whose lives have been enriched with the aid of the CBR program. Robert is a young boy born with Down syndrome, and due to the nature of his disability, was unable to walk and communicate.

As a result of the CBR program and further assistance from Medical Santo volunteer physiotherapists, Robert now receives ongoing rehabilitative therapy and counselling services for his mother. This provides uplift to his family, giving them both hope, connection and awareness to expect more inclusion in the community.

The CBR program continues to inspire change every day, and provides motivation for the local people of Vanuatu to help themselves and others to make changes in their lives and the lives of those living with a disability.

*The name of the child has been changed to protect his identity.

To read more inspiring stories, download the latest edition of Networking.

Posted August 23, 2019 in Networking blog