In partnership with Timor-Leste non-government organisation, ASSERT, Motivation Australia has supported the establishment of a national wheelchair service. The wheelchair service is based at the National Rehabilitation Centre, established by ASSERT in partnership with Cambodia Trust and the Ministry for Labour and Solidarity.
Clinical and technical staff at ASSERT have attended Motivation’s short courses in wheelchair prescription, assessment and assembly training delivered by Mobility India in Bangalore; and in-country training and mentor support has been provided. The ASSERT staff now have the skills to work with individual wheelchair users to assess and prescribe the most suitable wheelchair from those available.
The service currently has a small range of appropriate wheelchairs including the Motivation designed Rough terrain wheelchair and Active Style wheelchair; tricycles made locally by the Maryknoll St Francis Workshop; ‘orthopaedic’ style wheelchairs and children’s wheelchairs provided through Wheelchairs for Kids. Together ASSERT and Motivation Australia will continue to develop the skills and capacities of ASSERT staff to assist them to better meet the needs of wheelchair users in East Timor.
As part of the programme, in January 2008 the first peer group training camp was held in Timor-Leste. The camp was led by two experienced Motivation wheelchair user trainers. 12 wheelchair users from Timor-Leste participated, learning skills to encourage greater mobility, health and independence. For the participants, the opportunity to gather and meet with people who have a similar disability was a unique and empowering experience.
Theresa, one of the camp participants says: “I have learned a lot about my health and my body. When I return home from the training camp I am confident I will be able to move around much better by myself”. Two of the camp participants are now employed part time at ASSERT, providing peer support to other wheelchair users attending the service.
A Wheelchair Basketball Clinic, held in April 2011 has also had a major impact.