Delegates wander in and out of the Congress Indaba space to listen to what is happening. Photo: Stephen C

Indaba sessions build on personal experience to bring solutions

Congress’s Indaba zone was busy and buzzing on the first day of congress, as delegates gave personal and impromptu contributions on subjects close to their heart. Among the subjects discussed at the colourful African-themed meeting area was community based rehabilitation.

Indaba sessions were inspired by the tradition of meetings and gatherings in Africa. “We’ve done Indaba in Africa in people’s home settings,” says Esther Munalula Nkandu from Zambia, and a WCPT Board member. “The beauty of them is that they’re not just about physiotherapists landing in and saying this is the solution. They’re about asking what are the problems, and everyone can bring in their own perspectives and solutions.”

Delegates may wander in and out of the Congress Indaba space at any time, or gather on the perimeter, to listen to what is happening. Although some of the content is programmed, some is generated late by delegates at the congress, and there is plenty of opportunity for all participants to interact in a relaxed way.

So the format was perfect for a session on community based rehabilitation, which Esther Munalula Nkandu chaired. “The crowd provided various perspectives which enriched the conversation,” she said. “What came out was the need not to just consider the person in CBR but the context. We shouldn’t assume we know solutions based on our professional knowledge, but we need to see the person in the context of the community, embracing their environment and their culture.”

“If we make that part of CBR, we are more effective. We can give quality of life, but also reduce the burden of care and stress for carers.”

One of those attending the Indaba session on CBR was Pauline Kusuwo, a physiotherapist working in Botswana but originally from Zimbabwe. She was impressed by the format. “It was really good to learn what others are doing,” she said. “It has much more impact when people are talking from their experience – it’s less ‘bookish’”

CBR is not well-developed in Botswana, she said, but hearing perspectives from other African countries provided an idea of what she and physiotherapists in her country might work towards. 

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