Physical therapist Linda Wolff has been honoured for her volunteer work, improving rehabilitation services in Bhutan. She is the recipient of a Health Volunteers Overseas’ (HVO) Golden Apple Award, recognising extraordinary contributions from volunteers.
Having received her Master in Physical Therapy at the University of California in the USA, Linda Wolff made her first trip to the country as a physical therapist volunteer in 1994, when there was just one physical therapist in the country. She has helped develop the profession there ever since. Today she is Director of HVO’s Physical Therapy Programme in Bhutan, and according to HVO she “single-handedly had a more positive influence on the profession of physical therapy in Bhutan than any other person”.
HVO sends health professionals overseas to teach and train their counterparts in developing countries. It created the Golden Apple Awards to recognise the educational contributions of volunteers to international programme sites.
Speaking to WCPT News, Linda Wolff said she was honoured to receive the award. “HVO is an amazing organisation working throughout the world to improve healthcare where it is needed. I am humbled and inspired by the physiotherapy volunteers we have sent to Bhutan – their dedication and hard work has improved the rehabilitation services there beyond measure. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to help make a difference.”
Linda Wolff worked closely with Bhutan's Royal Institute of Health Sciences to develop a physical therapy technician training programme, launched in 1998. As this developed, more and more Bhutanese physical therapists, who had left the country for their education, returned to take over educational responsibilities on the programme from HVO.
“Because of the project, physical therapy services are now available at every clinic across the country, no small feat in many of the remote, mountainous areas,” says HVO. “Linda Wolff's vision and hard work has brought about tremendous growth in the training of Bhutanese physical therapists, influenced continued high standards in the training of the physical therapy technicians, and facilitated the volunteer service of 71 HVO physical therapy volunteers, all of whom served for extended periods.”
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