Robert was born with two club feet. Through ROMAC and the support of Waikato Sunrise Robert was able to have his feet corrected.
Robert was born on 7 February 2007 with two club feet. In New Zealand or Australia this would have been dealt with shortly after birth. The problem for Robert was he was born in a small remote village on Tanna Island, Vanuatu.
Although he had his legs in plaster for 6 weeks after his birth that did not correct the deformity. Robert had to be carried everywhere by his Parents although he could walk to a limited extent on the tops of his feet.
In April 2012 an Australian Blindness Prevention Project team visiting Robert’s village identified his condition as one that could not be treated effectively by local medical facilities and referred to him to Rotary Oceania Medical Aid for Children (ROMAC).
Robert and his dad arrived in New Zealand on 15 January 2014. They were hosted by the Rotary Club of Waikato Sunrise and home hosted by Club member Michele Rees-Williams. Robert and Ialulu experienced many new things while in New Zealand courtesy of Rotarians.
Robert was treated at Waikato Hospital Orthopaedic Clinic. He had plaster casts on both legs until 28 May 2014 when surgeon Richard Willoughby and his surgical team, who volunteered their time and expertise, operated on Robert’s feet.
On 4 July 2014 the plasters came off. Richard Willoughby was happy with the result and gave the all clear for Robert to go home. Robert was issued with special support “splints” to wear inside his first pair of shoes.
When Robert and Ialulu left on 9 July 2014, Robert was able to walk through the airport departure doors unaided.
ROMAC’s intervention has changed the lives of Robert and his family. Robert can now look forward to the normal activities of a young boy and can grow up to be an active member of his village. His exposure to English and formal education for the first time opens up other possibilities for him and his family.
Robert is one of the lucky ones. There are hundreds of children identified every year in the Oceania region who could benefit from treatment through ROMAC.

Colin Sanderson
ROMAC D9930.