You can never stop learning.
Ask 38-year-old mother, Mulama Murimuriwaca-Setu Mafuolo, and she will tell you exactly that. Mulama was among the graduates who celebrated sweet success during Auckland University’s graduation last week.
She graduated with a Master of Speech and Language Therapy Practice.
Born and raised in Samoa, Mulama’s biological parents are Naomi and the late Fepuleai Fa’ao’o from Faiaai. She was raised by her grandparents, the late Rev. Elder Setu Mafuolo and Filioata Setu.
Speaking to the Sunday Samoan, Mulama said she is grateful she has graduated, achieving a long time dream.
“Before I left for New Zealand to study my Masters, I worked as a registered nurse in Tuasivi for a year and then in SENESE Inclusive Education in 20013-2014,” she said.
“I was inspired by the work of the SENESE staff and the speech language therapist Elena Boyer when I was in SENESE.
“It was there that I knew there is a need for a local speech language therapist in Samoa who can speak and understand our native language.
“Then I decided to step up by challenging myself to study in the University of Auckland for the Masters of Speech and Language Therapy Practice.”
It took her two and half years.
“It was a very tough journey because of the speed of the course and the changes in the environment of learning.
“What really pushed me to succeed is the thought of Samoa and being the only representative of Samoa and the Pacific Islands in the course, as well as my families who are supporting me in prayers in Samoa and New Zealand
“I also depended heavily on the strength from God to keep me strong, motivated and persevere throughout the course that I managed to complete it on time.
Mulama also had the opportunity to put her skills to the test in New Zealand.
“I had a chance to do my clinical placement in the Ministry of Education in Botany, Middlemore Hospital and Greenlane Hospital.
“I have worked with some of the Samoan clients in these areas and one of the feedbacks they gave was that they are very thankful to see a local Samoan Speech Language Therapist who can communicate to them in our native language.
“My greatest supporters during my studies were my teachers, classmates and my Fijian husband.”
Back in Samoa with her new qualification, Mulama is seeking opportunities to work in the National Health Services as a Speech and Language Therapist.
“It was frustrating to find out that there is no fund for speech and language therapy services in the hospital and yet there is a need for a speech language pathologist,” she said.
“At the moment, I am finding ways to promote my service in Samoa and I’m sending applications to the Ministries and organisations which are providing services to people with disabilities.”
Her long term goal is to set up her own clinic.
“Not only that but to train more speech language pathologists for Samoa and the Pacific by sending them to the University of Auckland and to extend my service to other Pacific Islands which do not have access to this service in the next 5 years.”
Mulama’s education started at Matautu and Gagaifo Primary school in 1984-1991, Leulumoega Fou College in 1992-1995, Samoa College 1996, School of Nursing 1997, National University of Samoa 1998-2000 with a Diploma of Nursing, then National University of Samoa again in 2007 with a Bachelor of Nursing.
A Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) is a specialist working with people across the lifespan who have various levels of speech, language, communication and swallowing, drinking and or eating difficulties related to health conditions such as Alzeimer’s disease, Parkinsonism, Parkinson Disease, Stroke, Dementia, Motor Neurone Disease, Muscular Dystrophy, Locked in Syndrome, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome and all conditions affecting the intellect and physical abilities of any child or adult.