Physiotherapist from Hawkes Bay
As a sports therapist with 17 years’ experience, Emma has many high profile clients including an impressive list of All Blacks. What is equally impressive is her commitment to give her best, personally and professionally, to people in extreme poverty in West Africa.
This is Emma’s first experience with Mercy Ships. She read about the charity in various magazines and thought the concept of using her skills in sounded ‘amazing’. Emma worked extensively with Sema after surgery straightened his legs. It was her job to reteach him how to walk.
‘I greet, hug and ‘high five’ each patient numerous times each rehab session,’ shares Emma. ‘Asaqui’ (high five or put it there in the local dialect, Susu) was the first word I learnt here in Guinea.’
‘I tell each patient and their caregivers how awesome they are, how proud they should be of their son/daughter/niece/nephew/neighbour, and how well they are working at doing the exercises.’ Emma works hard to communicate through her translator to each child that she understands how tough the operation was, and how tough the exercises are. She reminds each patient that they are incredible and unique.
The rehab team perform their roles to the highest possible standard by using clinical reasoning, discussing each case, and by working hard to put energy and expertise into every child. ‘We want to ensure each patient has the best possible outcome after surgery.’
Emma believes the work of Mercy Ships is extremely important to the nations the NGO serves. ‘There are no orthopaedics surgeons, nor rehab teams nor physios who provide this treatment in Guinea. This means all the lower limb deformities the children here have would go untreated and worsen as they grow – therefore affecting their quality of life, their family’s quality of life, including their opportunity for education and marriage.’
‘I turn up to work each day and can’t wait to work and play with these amazing, tough and beautiful humans. My job is most definitely one of the best on the Africa Mercy.’
With thanks: Filmed and produced by TVNZ SUNDAY, and made with funding from New Zealand on Air