Abdullah Sahib will celebrate with the rest of his graduating class from the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics today and then bring three years of knowledge back to Iraq, his home country.
A graduate of the National Prosthetics Center in Iraq, Mr Sahib said he was looking to continue his education and received a scholarship to study in Cambodia.
“I wanted to help people with disabilities,” he said in Phnom Penh yesterday. “For a small kid, a small piece of medical technology can lead to happiness for all of their life.”
He said that Iraq had a need for specialists prior to 2003 because victims of previous wars needed prosthetics and orthotics; there were also accidents and children born with clubfeet. But the need for artificial limbs has amplified since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.
Today’s ceremony at the Cambodia-Japanese Cooperation Center will honor 10 students who earned national diplomas from the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics program and nine students who earned bachelor’s degrees from La Trobe University in Australia through CSPO. The students hail from Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Pakistan and Indonesia.
Mr Sahib said he has enriched his knowledge of prosthetics and orthotics in Cambodia, and that he has also learned outside of the classroom from fellow students who came from different countries and different cultures.
Cathy McConnell, CSPO management team leader, said the program trains health care providers to make, fit and maintain prosthetics and orthotics. She added that the international students will return home and work for the agencies that sent them to Cambodia, while the Cambodian graduates will work at one of the 11 rehabilitation centers in the country.
The CSPO program was developed in 1994 to help landmine victims, but many of the new amputation cases come from traffic accidents and diabetes, Ms McConnell said.