Wednesday, September 26, 2007

American OT and Her Students Visit Cairo...

Two years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Cindy Hahn, OTR/L at the World Mental Health Organization Congress held in Cairo, September 2005. Cindy lectured at the conference on "The Role of OT in Mental Health."

Since meeting in Cairo, we have corresponded for the past two years, as she was planning a second trip with some of her OT students from A.T. Still University, Arizona School of Health Sciences (

Pictured below: Maha Helali, Managing Director of the LRC, Cindy Hahn, OTR/L, Laura Efinger, Head of OT Department at the LRC, Vanessa McCarthy, OTS, Gina Buban, OTS, and Rachel Hoppe, OTS.

This past summer Cindy and three of her OT students (Gina Buban, Vanessa McCarthy, and Rachel Hoppe) visited Cairo for one week in August. Cindy and the students visited Abbassiya Hospital, Behman Hospital, the ADVANCE School and the Learning Resource Center in Cairo.

Cindy and her students raised money to donate OT supplies, some of which were donated to the ADVANCE School and the LRC. The students were very innovative and were able to negotiate with S & S Worldwide (, a distributor of arts and crafts supplies and educational supplies, to match the students monetary donations with OT related supplies. The children will greatly benefit from these supplies, so we can not thank Cindy, Gina, Vanessa and Rachel, as well as, their classmates enough for all their hard work.

Pictured below: Gina, Rachel, Vanessa, Cindy & Mr. Bahaa Farag, Administrative Director for the ADVANCE Center.

Although the ADVANCE School and the LRC were closed when the students visited, they were able to tour the facilities. Since the OT students were out of school in August, it was a prime time for them to visit. Hopefully the next visit will occur when students are attending their full programs at the facilities and the OT students can observe and assist in some OT related services. It would be our pleasure to have more OT students visit our facilities. It is a wonderful experience for students to experience OT in developing countries.

Cindy and her students have been quite busy since they returned back to Arizona, but once they are settled I am sure they will share with us their impressions of their visit to Cairo this past summer.

Cindy and her students will be presenting at the Arizona Occupational Therapy Association Annual State Conference ( this weekend regarding the topic "Bringing Occupational Therapy to Egypt." They will present at the conference about their experience in Cairo. I am sure this presentation will bring more awareness of the need for developing programs for individuals with special needs in Egypt, as well as, attracting more OT's to work in the region.

Much thanks,


Thursday, September 20, 2007

How I started working as an OT in Cairo...

I have often been asked how I started working as an OT in Cairo, so here is a brief summary:

Four years ago I moved to Cairo and a few months later I started working at the Learning Resource Center (LRC) in Maadi. As many people are aware, the theory of "6 degrees of separation" often happens in Cairo! My husband was talking with a new colleague about how his wife was an Occupational Therapist and looking for work. This colleague then told him her mother was a co-owner of a center for children with disabilities. Contacts were exchanged and I soon started working at the LRC. I am no longer surprised at who knows who in Cairo!

The LRC had a history of working with foreign OT's, so the owners and staff had a good understanding of the role of OT with children.

For the first two years, I was the only OT on staff and had some staff members who assisted with some sessions.

The third year, I had a German OT, Angelika join me at the LRC. Angelika stayed for the school year before returning back to Germany to pursue her Master's in OT. That same year, an American OT, Sena, moved to Cairo due to her husband's job and joined our staff.

(Oleh playing with RUSH HOUR, by THINK FUN)

The fourth year, I had a French OT, Emilie join our staff. Emilie stayed for the school year before returning to France. That same year, a British OT, Karen, also moved to Cairo due to her husband's job and joined our staff. Now, I am beginning my fifth year at the LRC and the OT department has grown in all sense of the terms of therapy rooms, equipment, caseload, and staff.

This year, Karen and Sena remain on staff part time and we have a Lebanese OT, Farah, who just joined our staff. Previously, none of our OT staff spoke Arabic, so it is an asset to have Farah join our team.

At the center, we treat children of various ages with various diagnosis. Children's ages range from a few months old to teenage years. Children who attend OT sessions have a wide variety of difficulties, such as impairments in:

*fine motor coordination

*gross motor coordination

*muscle strength


*visual perceptual/motor coordination

*cognitive abilities/attention

*sensory modulation/processing

*emotional/behavioral responses

*functional abilities (self help, play and school tasks)

The children attending OT services may also be attending various programs offered at the center, such as the School Readiness Program, Home Schooling Program, Family Child Support Program and Early Intervention Program. They may also come to the center for various testing (i.e. Cognitive and Academic Testing) and tutoring sessions.

I was lucky to have a few students who were nice enough to let me photograph them in their OT sessions. So, a BIG thanks to them!