Reported by Jim and Robyn: As soon as we arrived back in Wewak, we were up to our ears in preparations for the Living Child team’s visit. We both dove right in to finish up the purchasing, and send all 45 boxes of teaching materials, food supplies, and program stocks off ahead on a vehicle along the 90km of rutted and pot-holed dirt road. And on that one day, of course it rained heavily, didn’t it? But everywhere EXCEPT that one stretch of road…..just to remind us about Who is in charge!
Accommodation, meals, transport, phone time, and everything else were in place, and the team finally arrived after their looong flights, exhausted but excited……2 Aussies from Perth, one from Melbourne, 4 PNG women living now in Perth, and one PNG midwife from the PNG highlands. They had one day to get to know each other, stash their now-useless winter clothing, and get themselves organised as a functional team. Then on Monday, they set off for that 90km trip, and got just 20km before a public transport truck cut a blind corner and clobbered their vehicle. That was OK, but the truck driver got out and punched the team’s driver, and others came forward with their machetes ready to do him in! 2 of the PNGer members of the team bravely came to his rescue and kept everyone calmed down until the police arrived. We were travelling behind with the baggage vehicle, and we all returned to town via the icecream shop!
The next day, we all made a second attempt at departure, this time escorted by the District Administrator’s 2 vehicles and the same baggage vehicle in convoy…..a better plan anyway, to be escorted in and introduced by the Top Dog! So 3 rough hours later, we all arrived safely. Dirt roads are actually better…. they just rattle you around. The parts that have broken asphalt are worse because of the sudden braking and jarring thuds. Duly greeted by the powers that be in Angoram township, and settled into the very simple and cramped accommodations available there, the team explored the bank of the huge Sepik River, and prepared for the training.
Wednesday to Saturday consisted of training from 8:30 to 4pm. 22 attendees came from health centres around the District and the Angoram hospital, and they enjoyed classroom lessons with various activities, excellent videos, demos, and practice sessions in all aspects of antenatal care, safe delivery and family planning. Living Child has a fantastic model for practising very realistic deliveries, one person pushing the 3 kilo rubber baby out in various positions (head left, head right, breech, etc), complete with fake blood to simulate a haemorrhage, and other situations the students have to be able to cope with. Meanwhile, non-medical team members gave talks in the large open market place, and at the secondary school. We ourselves were responsible for making sure our hired cooks could shop, cook and deliver, for keeping the classroom and demo room clean and ready for the next activity, helping with the demos and practise sessions, organising transport, and any other logistics or PR that came up (and plenty did!). And speaking of the cooks……we had crocodile for lunch one day, giant moon fish another day, and piranha the next…all very good! For anyone interested, the famous piranhas were introduced to the Sepik in 1994 by some very misguided do-gooder to increase fishing stock because they breed fast.…yikes!
The first of Robyn’s health story books that has been translated and printed in Pidgin was distributed and very well received….. they learn well through the medium of stories, so we’re hoping they help to make a big difference for the women here.
One other important goal was for us to introduce Linda Tano, the midwife from the highlands, who is moving to Angoram to set up a maternal health program for the whole District….a HUGE job, but she is up for the challenge! She travelled as part of the team, got her bearings, met everyone, explored the staff house being fixed for her, and was met with great joy everywhere! The hospital is non-functional, but the almost-finished maternity wing for her was toured and dedicated as part of the training week.
So after a very successful week in Angoram town, early yesterday morning, everyone and everything needed for the second week’s teaching at Yamen village were packed into 3 boats, and off they went across the wide Sepik River and 5 hours up the smaller Keram river. They will be training women village health volunteers there, who have travelled from a wide area around."