Volunteer physical therapist helps those often overlooked

Recently, the Physical Therapy Department at Tebow CURE Hospital in the Philippines was blessed by the presence of Lauren Castelijn, a newly graduated physiotherapist from the University of Newcastle in Australia. She spent five weeks volunteering on mission with CURE in November and December 2017. During that time, Lauren jumped right in and learned new techniques from our staff while also sharing some of her knowledge. She endured long, hot, and uncomfortable road trips to our mobile clinics with a smile.

Lauren spent nearly every week at our free clinic with Christian, a teenage patient whose body was quickly losing the fight to Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a degenerative and ultimately fatal condition. While there was nothing that could be done to heal his body, she, along with the rest of our physiotherapy staff, boldly did everything possible to make his last days comfortable, showing unconditional love to the end.

As part of our infant clubfoot program, Lauren also experienced the joy of seeing kids take their first clubfoot-free steps. She spent countless hours fitting babies with braces so they’d never know what it’s like to walk on clubfeet. As a bonus, she also experienced the people and culture of the Philippines, the country her husband Phillip grew up in as a missionary kid.

We asked Lauren to reflect on her time in the Philippines.

“For my final university practicum, I hoped to gain experience in how physiotherapy can fit into the overseas mission field. My husband grew up as a missionary kid in Mindanao, Philippines. So, through some contacts, we managed to find out about Tebow CURE Hospital and organised to do a five-week internship in the Physiotherapy Department. What an incredible experience! I was constantly amazed at the work of the hospital: healing children not just physically, but spiritually also. The team does such incredible work and I really did feel like part of a large family working together to impact each child’s life (as well as their family).

“There are so many children in need of help, love, and care. Tebow CURE Hospital truly helps in providing this. Some of the conditions we saw, I will likely never see again due to the complexity and rarity. In other cases, we were treating teenagers for conditions that would have been treated at birth in Australia or the U.S., and they’re now finally able to be treated due to the charity care they receive at CURE.  It was fantastic to see such high quality treatment being given to people who genuinely need it and who are often overlooked in society. I’ve been challenged to do the same and look forward to seeing how God will use my physiotherapy skills in the future overseas.”

Lauren was quickly adopted as an honorary staff member, and after her five-week stay flew by, we were all asking, “Do you really have to leave?!” It was a such pleasure to have her on board!

Interested in volunteering at a CURE mission hospital?
Get in touch with our Global Outreach team at https://cure.org/go/inquiry/.


Photo of the Marlene Bray

About the Author:

Hi, I’m Marlene, the CURE Storyteller at the Tebow CURE Hospital in Davao City, Philippines! I’ve lived in Davao for three years with my husband, Dan, and our son, Andrew. I get to spend my days with some of the coolest kids around, capturing their remarkable lives through photos and stories. Beyond that, I like trying bizarre foods, listening to bizarre music, and hanging out on some of the most gorgeous beaches in the world. Yes, I still pinch myself daily – I can’t believe I have the best job ever!

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