Family and education background
I Samuel Mkomera was born on 10th August, 1993 at Chipembere village in Kasungu district. We are eight in our family and am the third child. My father is an architect and my mother runs farming and some small family businesses.
I did primary school education at Chiphaso Boys primary school in Kasungu. In 2008 after sitting for a national Primary School Leaving Examination, I was the top student in my class selected to a boarding secondary school called Chayamba secondary school in Kasungu district. In 2012, I passed Malawi School Certificate Examination. However, I wasn’t satisfied with the results as compared to my class performance hence I decided to re-sit on the following academic year. I did it in 2013 at El-Shaddai Private Secondary School and the results at this point made up my satisfaction.
My dream was to pursue any health related course at one of Malawian Universities but it was difficult due to high competition in the public universities and father couldn’t afford to pay for the private universities as the tuition is too expensive. Then after, I just decided to do a short course of Electrical Engineering while waiting for other opportunities to open up.
My career and goals
Honestly, I wasn’t aware about prosthetics and orthotics until in 2014 when I was told by a colleague that 500 miles was recruiting prosthetics and orthotics technicians (bench workers). I applied for the post and luckily I was one of the successful candidates.
I joined 500 miles as a Prosthetics and Orthotics Technician (bench worker) in December, 2014. I was totally impressed after seeing how we were helping persons with disabilities to be independent. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw for the first time an amputee walking without any walking aid and with almost exact gait like a non-amputee. I remember talking to myself “this is my life career’’. However, being a technician, chances of participating in decision making were limited. My goal was to be one of the decision makers to any challenging case to the patients. In order to be more reliable in helping the patients and contribute fully to the team, more professional knowledge was needed.
In 2016, my life career became true. I got a precious opportunity to be the second Malawian to study Prosthetics and Orthotics in Cambodia. I joined Cambodian school of Prosthetics and Orthotics (CSPO) in March 2017. CSPO provides a 3-years training program for students from Cambodia and other low income countries including Malawi to be qualified professionals in Prosthetics and Orthotics. In addition, we had an opportunity to train leadership, management, research and innovations.
I graduated at CSPO in February, 2020 and now am working as a professional Prosthetist and Orthotist at 500Miles Prosthetics and Orthotics Center at Kamuzu Central Hospital in Malawi. Now am happy that am able to participate fully in decision making and able to use research and innovation knowledge to implement new technical ideas to produce high functional and cosmetic devices for the patient. My goal is to bring more innovations and do research to ensure we are providing high functional and quality devices to the patient from the materials that are readily available.
Naturally I like travelling, exploring and innovating new things, new ideas and interacting with different people. That helped me to enjoy visiting many interesting places in Cambodia. In three years I was able to speak more than 50% of Cambodian language and make more Cambodian friends.