Physiotherapist Volunteer - Rob Harper

My first impressions of India … Chennai airport; dust, faces, noise people, cars, trucks, buses, horns blowing … organised chaos at 11:30pm after coming through customs … what in the world was going on ! Exciting ...

When I arrived at the camp, I found a delightful rural setting, very basic, with friendly people.

I can't pinpoint any one highlight of the camp ... the whole camp was the highlight! The early morning exercise, travelling in the bus to Trichy, especially sitting in the front seat and watching 'it all happen', the traffic merging and turning, horn blowing … cattle, people, pigs, dogs, all sorts of wheeled vehicles ... amazing. Of course, working with the people and their appreciation of our assistance and efforts to help and to do that without cost to people who really only had the clothes on their back and a shack for shelter was a highlight …

Working in India just doesn't compare to working in Australia … Here we have hydraulic tables; there they had the floor, or perhaps some sort of trestle … Here we can have reasonable room space and clean dust free work stations where the patient can have privacy; there you just get 'a space, any space' and make the best of it ... Here people are accepting of appropriate disrobing; there saris stay on!

Overall, it was an amazing experience, one I thoroughly enjoyed, so it is a positive reaction and one that made me appreciate what I have, in every way, as a person and physio in Australia.

To any new volunteer my message is: Go! Don't think about it. Go! Have an open mind and a 'can do' approach and enjoy the experience. Remember the Air India slogan: 'Incredible India' and take advantage of being there and extend your time there post camp. Enjoy the wide variety of culture and cuisine throughout India plus their rich and varied history … and go see the Taj Mahal!

Rob Harper - Physiotherapist, Private Practice