"Not Just Numbers!"
On July 1st a group of fifteen volunteers from the Melbourne and Sydney Churches of Christ travelled to Papua New Guinea as part of the 2013 HOPE Volunteer Corps. The seven-day trip was packed with Health and Education projects with the goal of following Jesus’ example of serving the poor. The projects covered three sites on the outskirts of Port Moresby: 9 Mile Clinic, Lawes Road Clinic and Six Mile School. The group arrived with lots of luggage- mainly large boxes packed with construction material and equipment (purchased from Bunning’s by George Vlek at discounted prices). The check in at the airport took some time and the person supervising oversize luggage expressed his doubt about all of our items being able to fit on the plane, ‘anything over 2m 30cm, even if it is just 1cm over will just not fit in the cargo hold!’ He measured up our largest item, the TB shelter, and it was 2m 28 cm!Nichola transporting part of the TB Shelter for 9 Mile Clinic
The Australian volunteers were warmly received at the airport in Port Moresby and billeted out to members of the Port Moresby Church of Christ who took care of housing and transport. The warmth and hospitality added to the whole volunteer experience and greatly reduced the costs- Papua New Guinea is an expensive place to stay!
HOPE Volunteer Corps volunteers being greeted by member of the Port Moresby Church of Christ, outside the International Airport.
Sam Cameron leading a morning devotional at the HOPE office in Port Moresby
Morning devotionals were led by Sam Cameron, to help inspire volunteers in their service. The theme was taken from Matthew 9:35
‘Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd’.
Brooke, Kaitlin and Nichola wearing HOPE Volunteer T-shirts
In a place like Papua New Guinea where there are many people with needs it is easy NOT to have compassion! Volunteers worked together wearing T Shirts, courtesy of mirrorgram http://ontheflipside.shirtstore.net.au/shop. The reflective message on the front ‘NOT JUST NUMBERS, 319039’ reveals the word PEOPLE, but only when you look at yourself in the mirror!
A HOPE Volunteer outside Nine Mile Clinic which was closed for a few days to allow for renovation work
The Nine Mile clinic is one of the busiest urban clinics in Papua New Guinea. With hundreds of sick people going through the clinic every week it was due for a good clean up!
George Vlek assembling part of the TB Shelter
One of the services provided at the clinic is treatment for TB. However, with the limited space and with no proper waiting area for TB patients, the risk of spreading the disease to other patients could not be controlled. This was until George Vlek led a team to build a stand-alone shelter. He along with Ian Paton (for muscle strength) and a team of Papua New Guineans worked hard to put together the ‘marquee’ style shelter in a few days! George also trained the locals as he worked and donated all his tools afterwards (again, he got many at discounted prices from Bunnings and other hardware stores in Australia)!
HOPE Corps Volunteers featured in the National newspaper
“Many hands make light work’ is a true saying. The Lawes road clinic was the second health facility to benefit from a face-lift and in the space of 2 days it was transformed! The team of HOPE volunteers worked hard and grew in number as those standing by were inspired to join in! The media also gave positive coverage on National TV and in the Newspapers!
Louise Parrott with staff she trained to teach children in an engaging way
Louise Parrott is a health educator from Sydney who uses puppets as part of a program to help vulnerable Australian youth. She put this into good use training teachers and educating children at both the Lawes Road Clinic and the Six Mile School. The messages conveyed were fun and important- health and wellbeing. Like George’s tools many of Louise’s puppets remained in PNG to be used at the clinic and school for a future date.
Shiv, just after his baptism
During the week of serving the poor, volunteers also met spiritual needs at night through doing Bible studies. A man by the name of Shiv was searching for a relationship with God and was introduced to the Port Moresby Church of Christ when he heard singing outside his house one morning. He investigated further and found out that it was Jeeva a HOPE volunteer teaching some children church songs in Hindi! Shiv, a generous man with a soft heart for the poor and a desire to know God studied the Bible and was baptized on the 6th day of the HOPE volunteer Corps wearing a HOPE Volunteer T-shirt!
Port Moresby Church- out door service
The Port Moresby Church of Christ took care of all our volunteers for the week whilst they worked hard on the projects and on Sunday with the work completed we rested and celebrated with an outdoor church service, lunch and sport!