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Projects Abroad Makes Significant Medical Contributions in Fiji and Cambodia

Volunteers and interns effect tangible and long-term change for disadvantaged communities and disabled patients abroad

A Projects Abroad Nutrition intern conducts a health check for a villager in Fiji. 

A Projects Abroad Nutrition intern conducts a health check for a villager in Fiji.

NEW YORK – October 1, 2014 – As a leading international volunteer organization, Projects Abroad is committed to improving the social and physical environment around the developing world. The projects that Projects Abroad offers all aim to benefit communities in need and each specific project is given its own unique set of goals. In the field of Medicine & Healthcare, the organization works toward improving the quality of life for those living with disabilities, as well as supporting communities where access to healthcare is irregular. With the help of interns and skilled volunteers, the organization is making noteworthy progress in meeting this goal, particularly in Fiji and Cambodia.

The Nutrition project in Fiji has gone from strength to strength since it began in May this year. So much so, that even the Prime Minister of Fiji has noticed the incredible work Projects Abroad interns are doing. In his speech to celebrate Senior Citizen’s Day and the festival of Eid earlier this year, he closed by saying that “I would also like to acknowledge the team from Projects Abroad that is providing free medical check-ups for all the senior citizens here today.”

The aim of the Nutrition Project is for interns to determine the major health threats in the local community and their likely causes. The presence of this project in Fiji is crucial, as the prevalence of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes and heart disease among adults in the Pacific Region is one of the highest in the world, according to the World Health Organization. Projects Abroad interns take on an important role in the poorer communities, as they can devise a nutrition and health program to counter the existing health issues and prevent the onset in avoidable cases, including running cooking and exercise classes. It’s a program that has the potential to reach and empower thousands of people: the hope is that, through education, Fijians will gain a better understanding of the causes of disease and the preventive steps they can take, which they can then teach their children.

Feedback from the Fijian villages where Projects Abroad interns work has been hugely positive so far. For the interns themselves, the experience has been equally helpful. Lindsay Benster and Victoria Murphy, two interns who recently took part on the project, commented that “through this internship opportunity, we have vastly expanded our own knowledge of nutrition and the importance of education.”

In Cambodia, Projects Abroad works with three different partner organizations on the ground in the fields of physical therapy and occupational therapy. The hope is to offer patients with the specialized stimulation that is severely lacking in medical institutions in Cambodia. One of these placements is Home of Hope, a center for children and male adults living with disabilities located on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.

This summer, Projects Abroad volunteers helped convert two disused rooms at the center into a physical therapy room and a sensory room. A wonderful group from Australia started the renovations by creating and decorating the physical therapy room. They then passed the baton on to diligent High School Special volunteers in July who finished constructing the sensory room and providing welcome shade over the playground. Projects Abroad are immensely grateful to both of these groups for their help with the transformation and the organization is now trying to ensure that their efforts have a long term impact.

The organization is now seeking qualified physical therapists and occupational therapists to help care for residents and improve their quality of life. Physical therapy and occupational therapy students with at least three years of training behind them can also make a substantial impact and will be very welcome.

For more information on Projects Abroad’s Medicine & Healthcare programs, please visit: www.projects-abroad.org/volunteer-projects/medicine-and-healthcare.

About Projects Abroad

Projects Abroad was founded in 1992 by Dr. Peter Slowe, a geography professor, as a program for students to travel and work while on break from full-time study. The program had its genesis in post-USSR Romania, where students were given the chance to teach conversational English. After a few years just sending volunteers to Eastern Europe for teaching, the company expanded to sending volunteers of all ages around the world on a wide range of projects.

Projects Abroad is a global leader in short-term international volunteer programs with projects in 29 countries and recruitment offices in the UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Holland, Hong Kong, Norway, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and the United States.

For details on volunteering abroad, visit Projects Abroad’s web site at www.projects-abroad.org.

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