Name: Jope Liloma
Current role: Wheelchair Technician at Frank Hilton Organisation in Suva, Fiji.
Jope is one of four brothers and after not finding his way with university became a volunteer ‘Community Aid’ through the Ministry of Health (MOH). As we were chatting, he spoke fondly of his mother and nieces and nephews, obviously a family man. He enjoys his role at Frank Hilton Organisation (FHO), is dedicated and leaves home at 4:30am to take the bus to work every day. He said that the smiles he gets from the children he helps at FHO are why he does what he does and are priceless. Krystal Panakera sat down with Jope to chat about his role with FHO and how Motivation Australia (MA) continues to help him in his career as a wheelchair technician. His friends don’t often understand what he does and he jokes that he tells them he is like a “car mechanic for wheelchairs”.
How long have you been at FHO?
Since 2017, before that I was volunteering in my community through the Ministry of Health. I would assess people’s needs in the community and help to get what they need (walking aids, wheelchairs etc). I would also help people in my community to get around their villages, homes and use their mobility devices.
How did you get into the volunteering?
Maraia from the Ministry of Health came looking for volunteers during their outreach program.
What do you love about what you do?
Seeing the satisfaction on the client’s face and their families. Priceless smiles from the clients that I am able to help and assemble wheelchairs for.
What challenges do you face in your role?
Trying to build a wheelchair on a timeframe or under pressure, sometimes they take quite a long time. I often help other departments: Dialect translation (between Fijian, English and Hindi), transporting children and their wheelchairs or lifting things. I am one of only two male staff at FHO.
Which MA trainings have you attended?
I met Lauren and Ray at the Motivation Australia’s Fiji National Wheelchair Forum in 2015 because of the volunteer work I was doing with MOH. I then attended basic wheelchair Training in Fiji in 2016 and later that year, started at FHO. I then attended intermediate training in the Solomon Islands in 2017, intermediate refresher training in Vanuatu in 2018 and basic refresher here in Fiji Sept 2018.
What was the most useful skill you have taken away from the training?
Putting together the wheelchair, allowing me to be a wheelchair technician.
What does MA do for you in your current role?
My position at FHO is new and is supported by MA’s Pacific MDS project, I am very thankful for that. All the trainings, Ray Mines (Director of Design and Innovation at MA) was by my side during every training in the beginning.
Why is it important for MA to work in Fiji?
Resources and information from MA are taken in by everyone. MA explains things in a way that easy to understand because they are experts in what they do. My relationship and experiences with MA have always been positive and I know I can trust the information they give me.
What more support could MA offer you?
I am lucky, I get to train and better my skills every day, by being hands on with the wheelchairs. Sharing of information is always helpful. It would be great to have an open forum for technicians around the Pacific where we can share what we do with new ways and ideas to improve what we do. It would be great to get advice from people that have been or are in the same situation as me.
Motivation Australia acknowledges the valuable contribution of the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) to the Pacific MDS Project.
Motivation Australia is a proud partner of Frank Hilton Organisation, and we recognise their hard work and dedication to make a difference in the lives of children with a disability in Fiji.
To support MA’s work and help continue mentoring for people like Jope,