Without Graham at my side to negotiate the unpredictable internet, I have struggled to keep up with the blog. It has, however, been a truly amazing and memorable trip. I can only thank God for enabling me to come once more.
My visit to Sasamunga for 2 weeks was a delight, the development under Rev Kotali quite outstanding with a newly refurbished hospital completed in 7 months. They also have a new Xray machine and scan with a radiographer and are well prepared to receive a doctor once the newly Cuban trained ones are ready to go to the peripheral hospitals. I had a busy 2 weeks and was overwhelmed by their warmth and welcome to me.
Back at Munda, the new doctor arrived and what a blessing he is. Conscientious, knowledgeable and skilful after 9 years in PNG, it was a relief to have him there for 2 obstetric emergencies. The first was a hand presentation in a 2nd undiagnosed twin, which he managed to deliver vaginally after quite a struggle. The baby survived and has already gone home with mother and twin 1. The 2nd emergency was a shocked bleeding antenatal lady, who turned out to have a molar pregnancy. The conception never develops into a baby and it is a precursor for malignancy. After 5 litres of fluid, 4 units of blood and a suction aspiration of the molar pregnancy, she has made a good recovery.
The wards and outpatients have been busy and we were pleased to work together. The hospital is busier again, now people know there is a doctor there. As he also plans to do surgery, if happy with the theatre, I just hope he doesn’t get burnt out.
Another highlight was the 3rd nursing college graduation, with 11 nurses receiving their diplomas. The college is still struggling to get its re-accreditation in order to take a new intake next year. The Uniting care team were able to complete the new lab as required, but a new office, classroom and accommodation are still urgently required. It was a happy occasion and the college remains very grateful for all the support received from Uniting Care, Australia.
Having come and gone so many times, I did not expect any farewell, but Melanesian hospitality would not allow me to slip away quietly and I have felt quite overwhelmed. Knowing that I may not return has made the leaving of this community that has taken me to their heart, a very emotional one. I am so grateful to the UK Methodist Church, the United Church of the Solomon Islands and my family at home and in the Solomon Islands for allowing me this adventure.
To God be the glory, great things he has done.
If anyone wants to support the HGH hospital and college or Sasamunga hospital, a charity has been established by previous mission partners. It is called Agape Link (Solomon Islands- UK) and any donations can be gift aided through it. HGH wishes to build a separate TB ward, as the general ward corridor is now overflowing and the children with Tb are just in the general paediatric ward. The college is in urgent need of new buildings in order to continue to train the much needed nurses. Sasamunga still hopes to build a small rehabilitation and physiotherapy unit. If you wish to make a one off or regular donation, please contact Dr Graham or DrJenny.
Thank you to all who have read the blog and supported us in this venture. I will try to update you with news as I can.
Jenny was able to fly to Taro on Easter Monday, then travel down the Choiseul coast by open canoe, arriving very wet as often happens. She knew most of the staff and was able to give the senior nurse the opportunity to have a break from working day and night. The hospital has been largely rebuilt since we were last there two years ago with Steve Pearce visiting from London. She was able to do medical tours to clinics up and down the coast, seeing 50 patients in one of these villages.
The sea was rough during her last few days, so she feared that she may not be able to cross to Gizo as planned, but the sea became calm in time. The college of nursing has been preparing for graduation all week. This will take place today and Jenny will give a speech on behalf of the hospital. She will be back in the U.K. on 30th April.
I have just returned from the noisiest Good Friday service that I have ever attended. It was held at the South Sea Evangelical Church (Baptist in this part of the world) in Kindu. They are hosting a worship and study week-end. Their beautiful new church was overflowing with congregations from other places who were very enthusiastic in their worship. It was in contrast to our United Church service last night, which was a very thoughtful reflection on Luke’s account of the last supper. It was led by our new general secretary, who is a very educated man. He spent time in the UK as a marine engineer, before he felt God call him to ministry. I look forward to seeing what changes his appointment will bring to the church.
We have experienced a lot of sickness with high fevers of 40 degrees C. and more. It is so difficult to be sure of the diagnosis with such limited investigations. Happily everyone has recovered with supportive treatment. The doctor who was expected last Friday has not yet appeared with no explanation, but I am off to Choiseul on Monday for 2 weeks, having booked my ticket, once the doctor had given us a date. We managed to get most of the hospital sprayed for malaria yesterday, which will make it much better for patients and staff who had been complaining. Now it is fairly quiet, most people wanting to be with their families for Easter.
Wishing you all a blessed Easter
The hot weather continues despite a tropical storm last night that cooled the temperature for a short while. It has been a much quieter week-end after another busy week. 2 patients went by plane to Honiara on Friday, including one of our nurses with fever and fluid in her lung, which had not responded to treatment. The canoe also went to Gizo with 2 antenatal mothers. Friday is always a busy day for me as the island people take the opportunity of market transport to come to hospital. I have given up trying to get there myself, but managed a quick trip on Wednesday, when I was able to re-stock.
Our new Chaplain is now well established and very active in the hospital and compound. He lost his right arm in an accident in 2014. He realized he wanted to get rid of all his bad ways with his arm and once recovered wanted to serve in health care. He is full of energy. His message to us was “Jesus told us to go and tell, not to go and write and he can still do that” He has a sense of humour and is well liked in the hospital. I feel the hospital is now in good hands with a strong management team in place. We look forward to the arrival of Dr Richard on Friday
It is now 3 weeks since I left home and the hospital remains busy. Gastroenteritis continues, but it seems mainly adults who come early and usually settle quickly. The male ward is full of elderly diabetic men with infected feet. I have amputated gangrenous toes from 2 of them, but one may need further surgery and is going to Gizo by canoe today, with 2 antenatal ladies who may need caesarian section.
It is very hot at present, but intermittent rains have kept the water tanks topped up. The strong winds earlier have affected the market produce, even bananas are in short supply. Still, I am managing fine and very much enjoying the hospitality of Jim and Carolyn, the Bible translators. The Roviana translation has been completed and they are on their final read through after many years of work. They hope it will be ready to launch next year.
It is great to be back in the Solomon Islands after 5 months away. It seems that now, I just step back in where I left off, even though life is so completely different from that in the UK. This time Graham will not join me,as he is enjoying Bible College and is ” on call” with my brother and sisters, for my parents.
The hospital benefited from the services of a local surgeon for 2 months over Christmas and New Year, when he chose to work here during his vacation. When he left, a doctor from Uniting Health Care, Australia was able to help out for a week. The appointed ministry doctor, apparently posted here this year has yet to arrive, so it was straight to work.
As before, the nurses have done a magnificent job and have gained in confidence to manage the hospital whilst there is no doctor. I sometimes wonder if they need me, but the relief is immense, when a doctor arrives
Jenny left Manchester for Munda on Monday and arrived safely on Wednesday. There is a new hospital secretary, George, who previously ran the United Church Rest House in Honiara. There is currently no doctor working at the hospital, so it is good that she has returned for 11 weeks to help. Our house is in good condition, but needs a good clean. Otherwise things are much as previously. She hopes to send details of her activities and progress at the hospital over the next few weeks.
Our time in the Solomon Islands has come to an end again this year. Graham had a busy month despite the dog bite and is now recovering well. Jenny was sorry to leave the hospital yet again without a doctor, the nurses preparing to take up the extra responsibilities. The hospital and church are now working together to try to get the long-awaited M.O.U. signed with the government in the hope that it will help to secure a local doctor and also hoping to set up a fund with the help of the local businesses to support any overseas doctor. The hospital took the opportunity to do the farewell that they had been denied with our sudden departure last year and our last evening was spent with the Kokengolo congregation. As some of our heart remains in Munda, we hope to have an ongoing relationship, in whatever form that might take.
We are currently in Fiji staying with Julia, another Methodist mission partner. She is working on climate change and relocation issues. We have had a wonderful time meeting new people and also sharing with the other two mission partners working here in the Pacific: Val at the theological college here in Suva and Wande working in education in Papua New Guinea. It has been good to spend time together and we will leave here with some sadness, heading for New Zealand before returning home.
Our final weekend here in Munda has arrived suddenly. For the month of August we have been joined by two medical students, Laura and Jerry, who have been excellent, enjoying hospital life as well as snorkelling and a dive today.
Work has been varied as usual with its ups and downs: the nurses are preparing themselves to take over again with no prospect of a doctor soon. The accountant is now also acting hospital secretary and the director of nursing is the acting medical superintendent. There has been a lot of activity to try to get the agreement signed with the ministry and on Monday they will meet with local companies to try to establish a fund to support doctors that might be willing to come to the hospital from overseas.
On Thursday evening we enjoyed a farewell dinner that we missed last December as a result of our sudden departure in November. It was a feast preceded by a short devotion and followed by some entertainment from the students at the college of nursing. We leave for Fiji on Tuesday to meet up with the other Methodist mission partners that are currently posted in the Pacific.
After the wet and windy weather associated with the cyclone, we have now experienced 3 weeks without rain, resulting in empty rain-water tanks around the hospital and the local community. The market has not recovered so there is a relative shortage of fruit and vegetables, especially bananas and paw-paws. Medically we have had to transfer 2 patients by aeroplane to Honiara, one of these, a 3 day old baby with bowel obstruction went this morning.
Graham went to Gizo on Monday and met with Soraya, who is now very busy in her new position as hospital secretary there. He has been busy preparing for the Board meeting which took place yesterday (Thursday): the first meeting of the year. Unfortunately he has been put out of action by an attack from 3 of the wild dogs which roam the hospital compound. Hopefully he will make a speedy recovery.