Prosthetic, orthotic and wheelchair technician Tebakaro Aata has worked at the Tungaru Rehabilitation Services (TRS) in Kiribati for over 10 years. Tebakaro was working as a seaman in 2001 when he was involved in a motor accident that resulted in his leg being amputated. After a visit from a physiotherapist and prosthetist orthotist, Tebakaro received the support and encouragement he needed to return to work and eventually become a technician at the TRS Prosthetic and Orthotic (P&O) service in 2004.
After years of using crutches to mobilise, Tebakaro received a prosthetic leg in 2005 from the newly established P&O service. This made a big difference in his life, helping him to become more independent particularly in his work as a technician. Through his experience and work Tebakaro was encouraged to apply to study at Cambodia School of Prosthetics and Orthotics (CSPO), travelling to Cambodia to commence studies in 2006.
Tebakaro has now worked at TRS for over 10 years as a prosthetic, orthotic and wheelchair technician. As well as his study at CSPO, Tebakaro has attended many trainings and received extensive mentoring input from Motivation Australia and various Australian Volunteers.
Tebakaro uses his personal experiences to encourage his clients and feels that this has helped many people. He is often asked to talk to people on the surgical ward that have had amputations. Sharing his story, showing clients his leg and discussing the benefits of mobility devices and exercise in their recovery helps to give them hope. Tebakako feels that he has a talent to help other people with disability because of his own unique experience. Having an amputation himself allows him to encourage and give hope to others.
Tebakaro now has years of experience in clinical services that he can draw on to train and mentor others. With TRS looking to increase the geographical reach of their services, there is a need for nationally based trainers who can begin up-skilling community level personnel to support aspects of mobility device services.
This year, Tebakaro (along with his TRS colleague Akoaki Eritane), took on the challenge of developing his skills as a trainer. After a period of preparation, Tebakaro joined the training team to co-deliver an eight day basic level wheelchair service course in Vanuatu. Despite feeling prepared and supported, Tebakaro reported feeling nervous on the first day. However, with the support of the whole team, he quickly gained confidence and was able to develop specific training skills throughout the course. Tebakaro is now looking forward to gaining more experience in delivering training as he and Akoaki prepare to train I-Kiribati Social Work Officers in community level aspects of mobility device service delivery.
The support provided to Tebakaro to develop his skills as a trainer were possible thanks to the valuable contribution of the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) to the Pacific Mobility Device Service project.