The Highlands in Papua New Guinea are beautiful and full of natural beauty but are not a place to get sick due to its remoteness and lack of health services. I met with Jon Jon who coordinates the HOPE work in the Highlands and leads the Gumine Church of Christ. He was in Port Moresby for a few days collecting medicine supplies for the Bokolma clinic which caters for the community around Gumine, Simbu district, Central Highlands, some 14000 people. He told me about a measles outbreak that had just affected their area.
The Bokolma clinic is in need of repair but still treats up to 200 patients every week. Currently only one Community Health worker runs the clinic and Jon Jon is looking to train a nurse to help out at the clinic and start a much needed immunization program.
The measles outbreak started in early July and affected 1000 children across all the nearby schools (Gumine High School, Gumine primary school, Mul primary school, Sua primary school). The Gumine Church has around 30 adults and 30 children, of these 9 caught measles and were very sick. Even Jon Jon’s 6 year old daughter contracted measles and had to be admitted to the district hospital. She made a recovery and is now at home, although weakened by the illness.
Many children suffered at home without medication. Symptoms included a rash, fever, bleeding noses, sores in the mouth and stomach ache. Parents were obviously distressed and 3 children succumbed to the illness and died.
The 2014 HOPE Volunteer Corps aims to bring a total of 25 volunteers from the Australian churches to Papua New Guinea to lend a helping hand. Here are the details:
Two groups of 10-15 volunteers.
The first group will go from Dec 1st to 8th and focus on the Capital city, Port Moresby and surrounding area. The Goal: to fix up the HOPE Clinics, School and visit slums. In addition there will be an opportunity to encourage the Port Moresby Church and get involved in spiritual outreach.
The second group will go from Dec 1st to 12th and travel up to Gumine, in the Highlands. Goal: to complete the construction of the Bokolma clinic, encourage the church and local communities. There may also be an opportunity to visit 2 of our remotest churches: Mogiaggi and Calvary that are a 6-8 hours further on from Gumine by foot. This is also hoped to identify future poverty programs. The environment in the Highlands is challenging and not for the faint hearted!
Generally the Volunteer Corps is open to anyone attending our partner churches, but there may be opportunity for friends of colleagues outside the churches to also attend.
Numbers are limited, so email an expression of interest to me: firstname.lastname@example.org and a registration form will be sent to you in the coming weeks. A final list of who is coming will be drawn in August. The cost will be about $1500 per person (flights plus accommodation).