Pacific profiles: Sazmin Nisha

A photo of Nisha and two other man of the Frank Hilton Organisation taking wheelchair parts out of a van.

Name: Sazmin Nisha

Age: 30

Current role: Physiotherapy Program Coordinator and Community Rehabilitation Assistant at Frank Hilton Organisation (FHO)

From our very first meeting, it is obvious that Sazmin, referred to as Nisha, is a dedicated, passionate individual. Nisha is a single young woman from a family of 5. Being the eldest in the family “puts me in the centre with lots of expectations and pressure to be my level best,” says Nisha. She says that she prefers things to be orgnanised and MA can see that this shows in her work. Nisha is a self-professed “very vocal person” and this helps her to advocate for the things she believes in, including the rights of children with disabilities in Fiji. She also loves to laugh out loud! Ready at the bus stop at 6:30am and travelling an hour each way to work every day for the last five years, Nisha says that it is the small improvements (in rehabilitation etc) and smiles from the children that she loves about her job. Krystal Panakera sat down with Nisha to discuss more about her role at FHO and how MA helps her impact the lives of children every day.

How long have you been at FHO?

Since 2014.

What do you love about what you do?

I love serving and working with children with special needs. I am happy that I am able to bring happiness to their lives and seeing them smile makes me happy. Achieving improvements in therapy and rehabilitation sessions is a big achievement to us and can make big impacts in their lives.

Which Motivation Australia trainings have you attended?

I first met with Lauren and Ray in 2015 in one of the trainings they were conducting in the Fiji. In 2016 I had a chance to work one on one with MA for one week ‘in house’ training and our interaction and partnership has developed ever since and. In 2017 I attended Basic Wheelchair training in Fiji and Intermediate Wheelchair training in the Solomon Islands. I then attended the Intermediate refresher training in Vanuatu in 2018 as well as Refresher Basic training in Fiji in 2018.

Which training do you feel gave you the most growth professionally?

The Solomon’s and Vanuatu Intermediate Wheelchair trainings.

What was the most useful skill you have taken away from the training?

Clinical reasoning and how to decide priorities for the client including prescribing products, talking and advocating to the clients about different products, needs etc.

What does MA do for you in your current role?

They have included me in most of the trainings which has helped me come this far with FHO. Always providing me support even when I’m in my office not just wheelchair and client support but help with database as well. If I need help or suggestions I just send an email to Lauren or Katrina.

Why is it important for MA to work in Fiji?

It is really important because Fiji is a country that really needs support in this area – the disability sector. Even though we have Ministries etc, we don’t have people advocating for disability awareness and Assistive Technology. I wasn’t aware of these services or needs before.

When I first started, I just thought if a child needed a wheelchair you just give them one. After going through the trainings, it made me realise how important it is for children to receive the right chair, specifically made for them and which will suit the need of a child and their family. Everything has to be of World Health Organisation (WHO) standard. At FHO we are proud to follow the standards and the guidelines set out by World Health Organisation.

Follow up is a key component to Mobility Device Services. We see that if follow ups don’t happen on time clients can face lots of difficulties including, products getting worn out, clients growing out of the product, a change in home environment or a shift (in their device) – this can place a lot of threats to a wheelchair user. This is why it’s very important to closely monitor and follow up with a wheelchair user and to stop these problems from arising. This saves time and energy on everyone’s side.

I have seen MA training people all over Fiji and I am happy to say that our team is trained through MA and I am lucky to be part of this. If it wasn’t for MA this wouldn’t be the case. I am very fortunate to be part of the MA and FHO partnership, being part of trainings, workshops and conferences. I encourage all other organisations to work with MA, it would be really beneficial for them. FHO is playing a big role in providing these services to our children in the communities and is doing so much to bring awareness and advocacy to what we do and what we offer.

How does this effect the people of Fiji with disabilities?

The good side of it is that they are gaining independence, helping them to go about their day to day activities. With a level of independence, they are able to get back into work systems or access school, gain independence over their personal lives and so on.

Many people still don’t realise what paediatric wheelchairs are. People have this mindset that ‘this wheelchair is suitable for everyone’. This is one of the challenges, we need to do a lot of awareness about what is available and we need to advocate what is the difference between basic, intermediate etc and who is suitable for which.

Geographical, financial and accessibility challenge is still a problem for the people of Fiji. Handling product preferences looking at our geographical and environmental factors is a challenge. Not all products and devices are good enough for our set up, so we need more discussions around this with the people and partners involved to better provide the services with well suited products. In years to come we hope that people will have a better understanding and FHO is working hard to raise awareness and promote this to the communities.
Not only are we serving the people in our program, we are working hard with our outreach program to conduct more trainings in the schools we visit and talking to the teachers, parents, carers, families and other field workers. So, people are starting to realise that there are products and support available for the children who require a mobility device and that FHO can help. Early identification and intervention awareness is what we are working towards too.

What more support could MA offer you?

Continuing training to keep upgrading my skills. We still need a lot of support, not only for wheelchairs, but our database, documents etc. We would like to have trainings in other areas as well; paediatric, short courses, anything that will help me or my department.

It would be great to have the opportunity to work in or visit other places and services, learning from other people. People are always doing things differently and it’s a powerful tool in getting different people with different backgrounds and experiences to work together and share a common goal.


Motivation Australia acknowledges the valuable contribution of the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) to the Pacific MDS Project. Motivation Australia is also 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 and training for people like Nisha to serve her community, donate to Motivation Australia today!