Let me introduce you to ….

… Tom Haig.  Tom is an interesting fellow whom I have never met in person but it is like I know him well through my friends at SIRC.

Tom Haig (l) pictured here visiting this family of three disabled people who are building a fully-functional wheelchair-friendly house high up in the Himalayas. Photo Credit Tom Haig.

Tom Haig (l) pictured here visiting this family of three disabled people who are building a fully-functional wheelchair-friendly house high up in the Himalayas.  May 2016.  Photo Credit Tom Haig.

Tom tells me it all started 15 years ago when he and his brother Andy Haig MD, (now retired) Head of University of Michigan Spine Center, saw the need to set up the International Rehabilitation Forum made up of a group of PMR Doctors who work in low resource countries.

In 2012, Tom and his brother ran a conference in Dhaka, Bangladesh where they first met Dr Raju Dhakal.  You will remember previous references to Dr Raju in earlier posts, he is currently studying in Dhaka to become Nepal’s first PMR Doctor (Physical Medical Rehabilitation) through funding via Bowen Island’s own Drs Peter Wing and Claire Week’s charity SpiNepal.  Dr Raju and the Haig brothers hit it off, resulting in their introduction and later financial support of SIRC during last year’s earthquakes.

Tom is one of those communications specialists that can turn his hand to anything; developing websites “since the dawn of the internet” (his words) for large corporations, universities and small businesses.  In addition, he spent six months launching a radio station in the Himalayas and is a regular lecturer in medical colleges and speaker at conferences.  He counts videography among his expert skills.

It’s on this basis he spent 4 months at SIRC, producing instructional videos covering topics from the benefits of Peer Counselling to Wheelchair Skills and the Use of Assistive Devices to Physiotherapy tips for people with SCI.

Tom gathered a small team of wheelchair users from the locality to star in these videos and got editing assistance from Rownika Shrestha, daughter of one of SIRC’s patients.  By the end of the 4 months, over 30 instructional videos were made.   Pretty impressive stuff.  Check the out for yourself here.  They are mostly in Nepali but because they are instructional, anyone can figure out what is being taught.

In addition to the instructional videos, Tom and his team also did a number of shoots around Kathmandu for the Amrita Foundation for Mental Health, Rishi Dhakal’s student hostel in Jorpati,  the Nepal Disabled Table Tennis Association and the video I am featuring below, the Turkish Airlines Wheelchair Basketball League.

It’s about 5 mins in duration and well worth a look and includes shots of the SIRC basketball team in action.

I must say, this work is just fantastic and will be of huge benefit to SIRC as the Centre builds SCI awareness with health care works and the general public across Nepal.

Jai Tom and his team!

For more information:

About Kate Coffey

After 30 or so years in the investment management industry, 2013 saw me turn my life up-side-down, making my way first to Nepal, then Bangladesh during that first ‘year away’. The year took me on a journey I did not expect, had me fall in love with Nepal and its people, and become inspired at the work of Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) located in Bhainsepati - 2 hours east of Kathmandu in the Saanga foothills. Since 2014, I have returned to SIRC numerous times, working closely with the folks there in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes. In the past two years, my work in Nepal has expanded to the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation www.bomkarlsson.com and the Spinal Cord Injured Network Nepal. In Bangladesh I marvelled at the strength and resilience of marginalized women who have the courage and audacity to break the rules and make a better life for themselves and their children through microfinance programs with BRAC. 2016-2017 saw me embark on a totally new experience in Sri Lanka, a place I never would have chosen to end up in. It’s the 40C+ heat, big humidity and tropical snakes & animals that scared me! But I ended up love love loving! my time there, working with predominantly Tamil small business owners in remote villages in the north and east of the country, trying their best to recover their businesses and the lives of their employees, after decades of a civil war. My time in Sri Lanka made me realize my hard-earned business skills and experience can really be put to good use! The work the BIZ+ team and I did there ended up earning me International Volunteer of the Year Award in December 2017, presented on Capitol Hill, Washington DC no less. I am currently home on Bowen Island, in the west coast of Canada, shoring up my finances before I head off to who knows where, for my next expert volunteer assignment. 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 2013-2014. 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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One Response to Let me introduce you to ….

  1. Peter Wing says:

    Interesting, as always, Kate! Thanks – Peter.

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