#Do1Thing: Laughter is the Best Medicine

17 January 2018

Dr. Tine teaching a refugee exercises that stretch and strengthen the back and other muscles, to alleviate and prevent back pain. (Denis Bosnic/Jesuit Refugee Service)

When we think of a medical doctor among refugees, we might be forgiven for assuming that the doctor is there to provide emergency medical treatment. When we first see Dr. Tine Quendangen, however, she is lying on a floor next to a refugee, and they are both trying to suppress their laughter.

Tine retired from full time medical practice a year ago, and she did not want to spend her time shopping, or finding other ways to make more money. She realized that she had one thing that she was truly rich in: “I now have time to give.”

When she decided to volunteer with the Jesuit Refugee Service in Indonesia, Tine noticed that a common complaint among the refugees was chronic back pain. She now teaches refugees exercises that stretch and strengthen their back and other muscles, to alleviate and prevent back pain.

The training sometimes involves physical contact, and this can lead to awkwardness, and then to laughter. “The laughter also helps them forget their pain,” says Tine.

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