Under the Caritas Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CCAMH) Capability Project, a group of AWWA therapists embarked on a purposeful visit to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, from 13-15 March 2017. They conducted training sessions for a group of Special Education teachers, Physiotherapists and Nurse Aids from around the capital city on managing children with multiple disabilities such as Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy and Spina Bifida.
The CCAMH Capability Project birthed in 2014 when Caritas Cambodia requested for AWWA to journey with them. 2017 marks the fourth consecutive year that AWWA therapists have conducted training sessions in Phnom Penh.
Funded by J.C. Trust and led by Mr Thangam Balakrishnan, Therapy Head, AWWA Allied Health Professional Group (AHPG), the CCAMH Capability Project not only aimed to train the group of professionals in Cambodia but to also mould leaders within AWWA through character building, creative thinking and cross-disciplinary exposure. It gathers people, both trainers and participants, from different woks of life, to learn from each other, grow and develop. The 2017 visit was the last of the three-part series training which began in 2015 which covered areas like assessment and identification of abnormal patterns in children.
During this journey, AWWA therapists encountered challenges such as having to cater to participants with various training profiles and limited resources but through creating solutions and working with the resources they had, they have learnt and grown. Mr Balakrishnan said “We have faced certain challenges such as the diverse training profiles of participants and language barriers but we learnt and then modified the training contents to suit the participants.” He also said “The training sessions have given me the opportunity to lead and coordinate. It has also helped me to improve the way I articulate my ideas and thoughts and most of all, I am now able to apply the concepts which I have learnt when conducting training for new teachers at AWWA Early Intervention Centre.”
Nadia Sim, Speech Therapist from AWWA also shared her takeaways “The trip to Cambodia has taught me how to dynamically tailor the workshop content to better cater to the participants’ learning needs. As I am a speech therapist, I have also learnt about developmental milestones and other clinical skills which is not in my area of practice.”
In addition to just learning the hard skills, AWWA staff also learnt about the Cambodian culture and how to best engage and communicate with the participants to learn alongside them. Nadia said “We have learnt as much as have taught!”.