A GUERNSEY speech and language therapist will be heading to Fiji in October after winning a £1,500 bursary from Women in Professions.
The group, which provides networking and support for professional women in the Bailiwick, offers an annual bursary to enable a local woman between the ages of 18 and 25 the chance to develop essential life skills by working with a voluntary organisation.
Lara Gallichan, 24, was selected as the winner of the 2013 bursary and will spend six weeks working with Projects Abroad Pro : Qualified Volunteers in Action as a speech and language therapist in Fiji.
‘As a speech and language therapist, my role is to support people and enable them to communicate effectively and function within their own community. Communication is vital to every single person in the world and essential for a good quality of life,’ said Miss Gallichan.
‘Unfortunately, that support is not always available, particularly in poorer regions of the world and so I am looking forward to sharing my knowledge and making a difference to so many children.’
While in Fiji, Miss Gallichan will be based in the early intervention centre as a Unicef report has found that early intervention leads to the most effective outcome with children with communication difficulties.
‘The early intervention centre, along with Fiji as a whole, is in great need of expertise and specialist skills. I hope to be able to develop the skills of the centre so that it will have a positive impact on the speech and language therapy service as a whole at an important time in a child’s communicative development.
Miss Gallichan will work alongside the centre’s teachers providing specialist support to youngsters, a role similar to the one she has at the Child Development Centre and Le Murier School.
‘Collaborative working between professionals, the child and their family is essential in making any intervention successful and my aim is to provide the support necessary to empower the staff to be independent and provide an efficient and effective service,’ she said.
But she recognised that there will be challenges from her time in the country where she will live with a local family.
‘I am going to have to learn to adapt my skills to a different working environment which will have limited resources and I will also have to learn new approaches and strategies that might not be familiar to me. Speaking different languages will also be part of the challenge but I hope to learn some Fijian as well as helping my colleagues and my host family with their English,’ she said.
Miss Gallichan, who has a degree from University College Plymouth, St Mark and St John, said she was honoured that Women in Professions had chosen her as the beneficiary.
‘I am at a point in my life and career where I am ready to take on another challenge and broaden my horizons by gaining essential life experience. This is an amazing opportunity and I am looking forward to my time in Fiji and then sharing what I have learnt with my colleagues,’ she said.
Women in Professions’ president Elaine Gray said that Miss Gallichan was a worthy recipient.
‘We know from our own membership that women in the Bailiwick possess outstanding skills, expertise and experience. Women are contributing at the very highest level but in order to do that effectively, we recognise that education is not enough,’ said Advocate Gray.
‘Life experience develops skills which cannot be learnt in the classroom but which are essential for moving on in organisations in whatever industry, public or private. The aim of the Women in Professions bursary is to provide a future female bright star with the opportunity to develop and broaden those all important life skills which are invaluable at all stages of a career. We wish Lara well with her trip and look forward to hearing what she has learnt and experienced on her return.’