In November 2008, the Swissclinical Foundation produced its first orthosis in Stara Zagora as part of its humanitarian engagement in Bulgaria. On 7 June 2013, some four and a half years later, after carrying out an in-depth orthopaedic assessment of more than 350 children and treating more than 110 of these either surgically or using orthotics and prosthetics, we had the great pleasure of opening our own orthopaedic workshop in Stara Zagora. The main objective of our mission has been achieved thanks to the generosity of Kamata Real and Banque Cantonale Vaudoise, and all the donors to the Foundation. This remarkable workshop was set up in a record time of just a few months, including the complete renovation of the building, the installation of machines and orthopaedic tools, and the fitting-out of the apartment for the technicians. All this was made possible due to the unconditional commitment of the local construction companies and their workers, who have done a great job. We were also able to see first-hand, at the end of the construction work, the enthusiasm and delight these workers took in their involvement in the development of this workshop – a place that serves both as a meeting point and a treatment centre for disadvantaged children.
The opening of the workshop took place on the morning of 7 June 2013. – Watch the video – Attendees included representatives of the municipality of Stara Zagora, a representative of the Swiss Embassy in Bulgaria, a delegation from Banque Cantonale Vaudoise, Enrique and Lilian Drescher (Kamata Real) and most of our partners and friends in Bulgaria. We are all very proud of this result, not only because the workshop is superb, very well equipped and located in spacious premises – thus ensuring excellent working conditions – but also because we are able to offer excellent training to future Bulgarian technicians. The building is fully owned by the Foundation, enabling us to establish our humanitarian work in Bulgaria over the long term.
Although most of the work during this week was devoted to fitting out the workshop with the help of our three technicians, Ketsia, Dimitri and Kylian, we also produced our first orthosis in order to ensure that all the equipment worked as it should. We certainly had a lot of work to do when it came to the consultations: 70 children were seen from Monday to Saturday, mainly in the clinic on our premises. We were also able to see two children who, at the request of the Swissclinical Foundation, had been fitted with pairs of tibial orthoses by Angel, a colleague of Dr Gyurov. We had taught Angel how to produce these orthoses and we were able to see how perfectly they had been made, which proved to us the effectiveness of our training programme in orthopaedic equipment for Bulgarian technicians.
We returned to Switzerland with some great memories of our time in Bulgaria and we are already very much looking forward to returning next September to continue with our mission.