Sponsor a Student
Exceed has developed five schools of Prosthetics & Orthotics (P&O), with local partners, in Cambodia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Indonesia and Myanmar. These schools train Prosthetist-Orthotists from host countries and other less-developed nations in Asia and make Exceed the world leader in P&O education in a development context.
Many of these students are from disadvantaged backgrounds and require sponsorship to complete Exceed’s internationally-accredited courses. Each student needs $12,000 per year to complete an Exceed course ($36,000 & $48,000 for three or four-year courses). This is a worthwhile investment with a sustainable impact, as every qualified Prosthetist-Orthotist will treat and change the lives of thousands of children, women and men with disabilities during their careers. To find out more about student sponsorship please contact us.
Interview with Saros
Saros is a qualified Category 1 Prothetist Orthotist (PO) working as Clinical Mentor at the Exceed Rehabilitation Centre in Sihanouk Ville, Cambodia. Before becoming a PO he studied accountancy at the Khymer University of Technology and Management and worked part time at Solaris International (a TV production company) to help support him through his education.
Thor Phearsa interviews Saros for American Friends of Exceed.
Phearsa: Being a Prothetist-Orthotist is not a common career choice. How did you first become aware of the profession?
‘’Having polio as a young child and requiring orthotics for both legs, I had always been aware of the role of Prothetist-Orthotist. I attended the Exceed clinic in Phnom Penh for a number of years and was fascinated with the devices and how they were made. Each time I went for a new fitting, I asked about the manufacturing process; from taking casts to the production of the finished device I found the whole thing interesting. I always thought that it would be a very fulfilling job’’
At one of those appointments, a member of staff told Saros that the school was training students to become PO professionals. This led to a decision that would change his career path and his life! Because the course at the Cambodian School of Orthotics and Prosthetics (CSPO) was fully funded through a scholarship (not just including course fees and materials, but also covering accommodation and living allowance) the hope of training as a PO became a very real possibility for Saros.
Due to his personal experience with disability, Saros felt that he would bring something special to the role of a Prothetist-Orthotist. The opportunity to serve others with disabilities and to make a difference in their lives was very appealing and Saros knew that he could understand their challenges, feelings and hopes better than most.
Phearsa: What was the primary motivation in becoming a Prothetist-Orthotist?
‘’I wanted to help people with disabilities out of isolation and rejection back into society and into opportunities. I knew, first-hand, the limitations placed on people with disabilities but I was also very aware of how assistive devices had positively impacted my life - enabling me to study and work just like anyone else. I knew that if I could become a PO, I would be able to really understand the clients’ needs and that I would be motivated to get the best possible solution for them.
After some consideration Saros took the significant step to leave both his job and his degree course to train as a PO. But to be awarded the scholarship, he had to first pass the stringent entry exams.
Phearsa: How did you find the Category 2 training course at CSPO?
‘’The entry tests were tough and the course was the same. I have to say it’s not like any other course - it was very demanding both physically and mentally. Each year the semester started at the beginning of October and ended in September, with students completing 5,000 hours of study over the three-year course. In the final year, we also had to complete 1,000 hours of work with clients under supervision. On top of this there were written, practical and oral exams. It was really quite intensive: In my previous course, I worked part time but that just isn’t possible while at CSPO.
However the pressure was relieved, a little, by the fact that the students lived on campus. This meant that we could study together in the evenings after class and that we didn’t waste time travelling each day. Having the accommodation covered as part of the scholarship made a huge difference. The quality of the course was very good and it gave me an excellent foundation in Prosthetics and Orthotics, especially in terms of clinical experience.’’
After graduating from CSPO, Saros went on to complete the Category 1 course at Sirindhorn School of Prosthetics and Orthotics at Mahnidol University in Thailand and now works as a Clinical Mentor for Exceed.
Phearsa: What do you do in your post as Clinical Mentor?
"The primary function of the role is in improving clinical skills: I work with the clinical team; to mentor, advise, support and train them, ensuring that they continually improve the clinical skills required for the role. I also work to promote a multidisciplinary team approach between all staff including POs, Physiotherapists and Community Workers in order to improve the overall experience and care for the client. The other key element of the role in safeguarding clients, ensuring that staff are prescribing the best solution for the condition and providing the highest levels of service. I enjoy the dual nature of the role - sharing my knowledge and experience with my colleagues and seeing them grow in their skills and working directly with the clients.
The role is very active and strongly client-focused which I really enjoy. I also think that being in a mentoring type post, pushes you to continually develop new knowledge and skills. It’s also a great privilege to invest in the next generation of POs."
Phearsa: What difference did the Student Scholarship make to you and what would you say to those individuals or organizations considering it?
"I never fully understood the importance of a Student Scholarship until I studied as a PO. Previously when I studied accountancy, I was able to work part time whilst I was at University, but with the course at CSPO, it’s completely different. It’s very intense; 9-5 in the classroom with additional study every evening and weekend, so a part time job just wouldn’t be viable.
I am so grateful to The Nippon Foundation which supported both my Category 2 training in Cambodia and then further studies in Thailand, to gain the CAT 1, level qualification. This scholarship, not only gave me the qualifications needed to work as a PO and to serve people with disabilities, but also to go on to teach others, so that they can also do the same. During my studies, I was also supported by Cambodia Trust Aotearoa New Zealand (CTANZ) for six months of preparatory courses prior to starting the CAT 1 program in Thailand.
I never realized just how valuable it is to invest in education until I had seen the impact that properly trained staff can make. Each of the PO’s see hundreds of clients each year - making a huge difference to the lives of people with disabilities. The demand for treatment is high; especially among children with disabilities, who may require a number of devices each year as they grow and develop into adults."
Those individuals and organizations providing student scholarships vary as widely as the students themselves, from individuals to church groups and from businesses, industrial unions and Rotary Clubs to charities and foundations. Some of our sponsors include;
Mine-Ex foundation (Rotary Club of Lausanne, Switzerland)
International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO)
500 Miles (Scotland)
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
The Nippon Foundation (Japan)
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia
ALTSO (A Leg to Stand On)
Stanley Thomas Johnston Foundation (Switzerland)
Ministry of Education (Republic of Kiribati)
Church of the Latter Day Saints, Samoa
Cambodia Trust Aotearoa, New Zealand (CTANZ)
Sophies Minde (Norway)
Across the globe millions of poor people with disabilities, have no access to life-changing prosthetics and orthotic services. But by training students we can make a world of difference. CSPO has seen students from over 21 different countries qualified as PO’s. Just one trained PO will positively impact the lives of thousands of individuals throughout their career.
Demand for training is high, as is the need for treatment and CSPO could train more students each year if more scholarships were in place. Further scholarships would increase opportunities for those from the poorest countries and regions where need is greatest.
If you would like to provide a scholarship at our school in Cambodia, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.