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Babz takes prosthetic limbs to Sri Lankan charity

Date: 23 August 2022

Barbara Defriez (known as ‘Babz’) from Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust (SCFT) volunteered at a charity in Sri Lanka which helps disabled people access prosthetic limbs and wheelchairs.

The wheelchair therapy technician who works within the Wheelchair and Seating Service at SCFT’s Sussex Rehabilitation Centre, travelled independently to Sri Lanka on 1 July 2022 to help the Meththa Foundation. This charity creates and reconditions prosthetic limbs which have been collected from various prosthetic centres across the UK, including the Sussex Rehabilitation Centre. The reconditioned prostheses help rehabilitate disabled people in Sri Lanka.

Last year, Babz took the wheelchair challenge by travelling over 100 miles in a self-propelled wheelchair fundraising for the same charity.

When Babz arrived at Columbo airport last month she was met by the charity’s Founder, Dr Pana, who drove her to the facilities based in Mahawa. Babz spent the next four weeks rebuilding manual and powered wheelchairs from various parts of wheelchairs collected from various NHS departments across the UK.

Babz was also able to observe the manufacture of prostheses, which involved casting the patient’s socket and then using the parts obtained from different NHS departments to manufacture the complete prosthesis.

During her visit, she helped to teach the physiotherapist and prosthetists basic posture knowledge and helped them learn more about wheelchairs overall.

Reflecting on her volunteering experience, Babz commented:

“I heard about this charity when Dr Pana came to the Sussex Rehabilitation Centre to take unwanted prosthetic limbs from the department.

“I really enjoyed the work and everyone at the charity was extremely friendly and helpful – apart from the mosquitos who enjoyed feeding on me and the large black scorpion that appeared in my room one night!

“I am planning to return to the charity when I have a chance.”

See a selection of photos from Barbara’s trip below:

Barbara Defriez (centre in tie-dye t-shirt) with the team at the Meththa Foundation.

Manual wheelchair work area at the Meththa Foundation.

Barbara Defriez (right) and a team member at the Meththa Foundation (left) with one of the prosthetic sockets being manufactured.