In 2015 the timing seemed just right to pack up the family, rent out the house for a year and support a Prosthetics & Orthotics Clinic in a developing country. The stars aligned and just at this moment Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) were looking for a Prosthetic Adviser to improve services at an orthopaedic rehabilitation centre in the Philippines.
Bahatala was founded in 1992 by a dedicated orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Jose Antonio Socrates and his wife Cecile. After working and studying for many years in the US, UK and Europe they decided to return to their home country and dedicate their lives to the cause of setting up a much needed orthopaedic service and rehabilitation facility in Puerto Princesa, the provincial capital of the island of Palawan, about one hour flight south-west of Manila. Previously, the only way to receive adequate orthopaedic treatment for the 900,000 strong population of this beautiful tropical island was to scrape together funds and fly to Manila – unaffordable and out of reach for the majority!
Bahatala has transformed the lives of many people…
Bahatala has transformed the lives of many people with congenital conditions such as clubfoot, cerebral palsy, deformities or amputations. Bahatala has provided appropriate rehabilitation and prevented severe consequences for many individuals with simple fractures, acute injuries or stroke.
Sadly, Dr Antonio Socrates passes away in 2012. However, with the support of the dedicated Bahatala staff including physiotherapists, prosthetists, nurse, admin staff and a young orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Arnaldo Favila, Cecile Socrates makes sure this important facility continues to thrive and is available for the people of Palawan.
Funding is a constant challenge. Public funding for health is still extremely limited in the Philippines. At Bahatala, services are often provided at no cost for clients who could not afford it otherwise. Therefore, Bahatala depends to a significant degree on donations from individuals and charitable organisations. In 1990 The British Palawan Trust (BPT) was set up with the support of British doctors acquainted to Dr Socrates. The BPT was instrumental in starting up Bahatala and still is one of the major funding sources. I am grateful I was given the opportunity to further the Prosthetics & Orthotics expertise and capacity at Bahatala by sharing my knowledge and by enhancing the P&O workshop and manufacturing processes. I have not managed to visit Palawan since my assignment however, I am still committed to Bahatala and continue to give support. Monetary donations and donations of prosthetics & orthotic components, old and new are certainly welcome. If you are a clinician, nurse or doctor and want to help build capacity at Bahatala, please let me know and I will be able to facilitate a contact.
For more information about Bahatala, The British Palawan Trust or Donations please follow the links below or contact FÖRSTER DESIGN
Bahatala on facebook
The British Palawan Trust