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Life in Nepal as a rehabilitation counsellor

5 November 2018
Helping those in need in rural communities
Samridhi Rana Thapa is the Senior Program Officer - Community Based Rehabilitation at the Karuna Foundation in Nepal. She helps promote inclusion of disadvantaged people with disabilities living in rural communities.

Can you tell us a little about your background?

My educational background entails rehabilitation and disability inclusion. With an undergraduate degree in physiotherapy, I mostly worked with people with physical disability to help them gain and maintain their optimum mobility and functional capacity. After five years in this field, I decided to pursue a Master of Rehabilitation Counselling at the University of Sydney to broaden my skills and knowledge in promoting inclusion of people with disability, disease, injury and illness. The additional master’s degree has equipped me to work for a larger population and intervene to make a progressive change in their lives at an individual and family, community, national and global level.

Did you face any challenges while studying this course?

My master’s degree was an eye opener for me. I found the teaching methodology to be advanced and the learning environment supportive. Some of the teaching methodology was new for me so when I first started, it was difficult for me to comprehend that we had to do some online lectures. In my previous study, face-to-face classes was the only option. I soon realised online classes allowed more flexible ways of studying.

What prompted your decision to go back to study?

After five plus years of working as a physiotherapist in a variety of capacities including a hospital, a NGO-run day care centre for children with neuro developmental disability, doing home visits for clients, and engaging in voluntary positions, I wanted to go back to study. I was keen to learn more in order to broaden my skills and knowledge in the field of disability and inclusion. I then applied for and received an Australia Awards scholarship which enabled me to undertake the master’s degree in Australia.

What is next for you?

I have been able to use the work experience and scientific based skills gained in Australia to promote disability inclusive development in rural communities and beyond. I am currently based in Nepal and work for people with all types of disability (not just physical) and other vulnerable populations to promote their inclusion, through identification of support services, capacity building activities, proposal development, establishing partners and collaborators and creating evidence to enable formulation of stronger legislation and policies, among others.

There are so many things I would love to do next! I would love to pursue a PhD but also continue contributing evidence from low income country such as Nepal on disability and ageing, in order to enable evidence-based legislation and policies formulation, as there is a huge gap in this regard.