Now I know my blog of late has been mostly dedicated to Nepal, the place where my soul resides. This may have you wondering why this posting about Africa? Well, the world is made up of a large number of human beings, some of whom are rather exceptional and it is with these exceptional folks I have had the honour to shadow during my time with SIRC.
The following is a story of the historic launch of AFSCIN – an African Network for Spinal Cord Injury Centers tomorrow. Thanks to Dr Stan Ducharme for the content of this posting – the words and photos are all his!
THE AFRICAN SPINAL CORD INJURY NETWORK (AFSCIN) – October 29, 2015
It was Stephen and Maggie Muldoon of Livability International that first developed the concept of forming networks of spinal cord injury centers in low resource countries. Back then, it was envisioned that a network of centers and people with a common goal, could collaborate together and grow through shared resources and shared training opportunities. With the success of the Asian Spinal Cord Injury Network, (ASCoN), many people felt that it was time to expand this concept to other parts of the globe.
Later this week, a small group of individuals, will travel to Gaborone, Botswana, Africa, under the auspices of the International Spinal Cord Society, to participate in the first African Symposium on Spinal Cord Injury and to support the development of an African Network of Spinal Cord Injury Centers, (AFSCIN).
Under the leadership of Elma Burger, an occupational therapy powerhouse from South Africa, consumers with spinal injuries and health professionals from a large group of African nations will gather in Botswana to collaborate, share information and build relationships for the future.
Personally, I am especially pleased that psychological and sexual issues after spinal cord injury, often neglected in low resource areas, will be addressed and discussed in the workshops and among the networking groups. I know that this will be welcomed information. I look forward to this initial gathering and to meeting the spinal cord injury community in this part of the world.
Heading to Botswana – October 31, 2015
There are 10 of us on our way driving to Botswana. We have a rented van and a driver to keep things simple. We did a full day game drive through one of South Africa’s National Parks today and spending a couple of nights at a safari lodge on our route to the conference venue. The conference itself will be at another safari lodge in Gaborone, Botswana.
We are all excitied about the next several days with none of us having a real idea as to what we should expect. The prevailing attitude is that we will roll with the punches. Appearantly, we will have spinal cord injury professionals and consumers from 10 or more African countries.
It was an amazing day today with animals everywhere. It’s great to see them in their natural surroundings. We had breakfast in the park as we watched the wilderbeasts gather aroung a watering hole. Near the end of our day, we were forced to move aside as a herd of elephants slowly took over the road. They were very protective of their babies so we kept our distance rather than being mistaken as a threat. A day to remember.
Crossing the border into Botswana – November 1, 2015
This is a picture of our group as we make the last leg of our journey into Botswana. The border crossing however proved to be a challenge and took us several hours getting all the required paperwork completed. As we move into Botswana it strikes you very quickly that it is a much different culture than in South Africa. Time to slow down and chill out.