Grand Bay, Mauritius 1999
The first OTARG International Congress took place at Grand Bay in Mauritius in July 1999. The theme was “ The 2000 challenge. OT in Africa.” It was a very colourful affair and attended by 1001 delegates from all over the world and Africa. WFOT was generous in lending “start-up” money to convene the congress and every penny was repaid afterwards! It was a great success.
The second official meeting of OTARG took place during this time and a constitution was discussed and planned. The committee was returned with the same executive for the ensuing two years leading to the second Congress in Uganda in 2001. Judith van der Veen for Tanzania took on the task of the OTARG Newsletter. It was decided to hold congresses every two years.
The OTARG logo designed by Liza Davis, Rosemary Crouch’s daughter, was adopted.
WFOT decided to hold its interim Council meeting before the Congress at the same venue. One of the purposes for this was that negotiations could be made between WFOT and the Mauritius Government in terms of starting occupational therapy training on the island. Pioneer occupational therapist, Jacqueline Laurent, had established the profession in Mauritius and had been very active in promoting the training. Carolyn Webster, WFOT Chairperson, and Rosemary Crouch, now Vice President of WFOT, met with the Ministers and were interviewed on television. The training was agreed to.
In 2002 the curriculum for training occupational therapists was approved by WFOT and Mauritius became a full member of WFOT.
The training of occupational therapists at the University of Mauritius in Reduit, started in 2003. Imme Shipham from South Africa was appointed HOD and Jacqueline Laurent as one of the lecturers. The first occupational therapists graduated in 2007.
The OTARG delegates met informally at a meeting during the WFOT Council meeting in Sapporo in Japan in 2000 and discussed the development of the new constitution and Samantha Shann from Uganda took on the task of compiling it.
The opening night in traditional dress at the 1st OTARG international congress Mauritius July 1999