We are enjoying a bit of calm after the activities of the last few weeks. All our visitors have now left, including the medical students. A few days without rain resulted in empty tanks for them in Robina House, so our outside shower became the back-up for everyone. It is hard for some of the U.K. students to make the adjustments to life here with its limited resources. Fortunately the rain has returned and the tanks are full again, including the four new tanks recently installed.
Last week was the official handover of the newly upgraded airstrip: a New Zealand Air Force Hercules arrived on Thursday and most of the local residents enjoyed a day off to join the celebrations which included a feast prepared by the different local village communities. Unfortunately it was accompanied by a lot of drunken behaviour which continued into the weekend, so we were busy stitching people after the fights that ensued. Graham was asked to join a meeting this week held by senior police officers from Gizo and also from R.A.M.S.I. to look into the trouble which was blamed on poor policing in Lambete. By contrast, this weekend has been quiet, giving us the chance to catch up with a few jobs and some sleep.
We have both been back at Helena Goldie, Graham returning from Honiara and Jenny from Choiseul: Jenny had been alone at the hospital, with Drs Dina & Zotei as well as Darity away in Fiji for their C.W.M. conference. Fortunately there were no major emergencies and she enjoys the opportunity to do some of the paediatric and maternity work. Since then we have had the Pacific Force (a U.S. Australia and N.Z. armed forces partnership) camping in our meeting hall and working with us on infrastructure for 10 days. They had planned to get us continuous well water in our taps, but after many hours of work, it has been demonstrated that our usage at the hospital outstrips the ability of the well and pump to deliver water to the storage tanks. Fortunately they have provided some more water tanks and we hope to channel our next efforts into harvesting rain water. They did many other jobs, backed up coincidentally by a group of Rotarians visiting from Queensland and some U.K. medical students (Ed & Lucy with others) who spent a week painting general ward. This work inspired some local people, so they have painted maternity ward for us.
The Pacific Force left yesterday, so we are very grateful to everyone for their help and are now looking forward to a slightly more peaceful time. Sylvia (Combe) and Sheila are currently visiting and have been staying at Robina House. They were both C.W.M. missionaries teaching at Goldie College in the 1980’s. They have enjoyed meeting up with ex pupils and old friends.