On Our Way

I’m resting in bed with my electric blanket on, the cat snuggled up closely for warmth and a view of pink outside my window as the morning sun makes her entrance. It is quiet – the dog and the children are now safely deposited with my Mum in Busselton eagerly looking forward to some fun holiday activities: clay modelling, ‘mosaicking’ and bike riding. The coffee is not good as the milk has gone sour!

So, am I ready? Well I hope so. I don’t know if you ever feel completely ready for a trip like this as there are so many unknowns. Thankfully there’s a baggage and weight restriction otherwise I’d have so much stuff ‘just in case’. I’ve had to remind myself of the priorities – education and basic practical resources that they can use to keep educating the people in their villages. So, birthing kits, 4 dolls and model pelvis’, knitted uterus’, pinnard stethoscopes, normal stethoscopes, a couple of birthing charts and some basic portable first aid equipment kindly donated by St John Ambulance substations in the Great Southern part of WA. In PNG we’ll have time and the opportunity to do a bit of shopping and so we’ll buy a whole heap of exercise books and pens so that the women can take notes – something as simple as this is a huge gift for them. We’ve photocopied some notes, but weight is a problem so I think it’s best we do talking, listening and practical demonstrating and then they write/draw so that they will remember.

I’m hoping we’ll be able to meet the Provincial Health representative in Wewak hospital so that we can at least mention to him what we’re doing! Also get some official permission to introduce a Family Planning intervention that has been successfully trialled in 2 other provinces and supported by Rotary International. See http://youtu.be/VJs_ZAOwPlkhave

We have a few pieces of neonatal resus equipment to donate to them as well. Once travelling along the Keram River we’re going to stop in at Kambot Health Centre which apparently has a Dr and 2 nurses. Brigit who we met last year in Yamen has arranged this for us as it is her village. She’s very excited that we’re returning to the area and said that the health workers at the Centre are very pleased we’re coming too. It will be good to listen to them and hear what they think the needs are with regards to health of mothers and babies.

I’ve developed a ‘verbal autopsy’ form to be used to gather the stories about the deaths of mothers in the villages. I don’t believe these stories are getting out to the Health Authorities so hopefully I’ll be able to collate them into a report and then pass them on to the relevant people in governing positions. I hope to get at least 20 responses.

Dr Tim, a medical colleague and tropic medicine specialist, who has just returned from spending a month in Wewak and Vanimo, has asked us to collect a couple of samples from women as he has a hunch that Streptococcus is the cause of many deaths related to sepsis (infection). Apparently in Wewak hospital the neonates are dying at an incredibly high rate due to infection. It was great to meet with him the other night and gain a lot more understanding and knowledge about malaria from a public health perspective, as well as other infections that are rife in the area at the moment: such as tuberculosis and leprosy. I’m feeling a lot more informed this time in regards to infectious diseases.

So, bags nearly packed, equipment and food supplies all gathered, passport and travel insurance documents all in a safe spot. Jewellery removed. Legs plucked of winter growth – it’s hot over there! We’re on our way.

Thanks for your prayers!!



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