Launch of AFSCIN – an African Network for Spinal Cord Injury Centers

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.

The program for the inaugural AFSCIN meeting in Botswana.

The program for the inaugural AFSCIN meeting in Botswana.

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.

rhino

elephants

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.

Dr Stan is in the blue shirt, (middle front row).  Stephen Muldoon of Livability International next to Stan in the hat.  And Fiona Stephenson - SIRC's Volunteer Coordinator and SCI Nurse back row with the smiling face and head slightly tilted.

Dr Stan is in the blue shirt, (middle front row). Stephen Muldoon of Livability International is in the red shirt to the right of Dr Stan in the hat. And Fiona Stephenson – SIRC’s Volunteer Coordinator and SCI Nurse back row with the smiling face and head slightly tilted.

About Kate Coffey

After 25+ years in the investment management industry, I packed in my job and spent 2014 living and working in Nepal and Bangladesh, and visited some other places in between. It took me on a journey I did not expect, had me fall in love with Nepal and it's people, and become inspired at the work of Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) located 2 hours east of Kathmandu in the Sanga foothills. Since 2014, I have continued my warm relationship with SIRC and worked closely with my friends there in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes to date. This blog initially started out as a travelogue of sorts to keep friends and family worldwide updated while I was off on my travels in 2014. Since then it has morphed into a life story of the many places I have lived and worked and of the wonderful people I have met along the way. I hope you enjoy.
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2 Responses to Launch of AFSCIN – an African Network for Spinal Cord Injury Centers

  1. Benjamin Nwaneri says:

    Great. I met Stephen Muldoon in Tanzania through Dr Ram from the UK. Stephen made us laugh all night at the rooftop restaurant of the holiday inn in Dar Es salaam. Dr Ram hooked me up with a Nigerian participant and SCI expert and it’s been great working and doing researches with her. Hope to meet you guys again, hopefully in Zambia.

    • Kate Coffey says:

      Stephen and Maggie Muldoon of Livability International are doing tremendous work for SCI worldwide, as evidenced by the connections you just outlined – fantastic!

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