As Easter week draws to a close, we are reminded again about the fragility of life here as a one year old child died this morning with severe protein malnutrition (Kwashiorkor). He arrived yesterday evening in a very weak state and slipped away this morning.
It has been a custom in this part of the world for older family members to adopt young children if they want to. In Melanesian culture this was often associated with people who had land but were childless and wanting a successor. This has largely died out, but the custom seems to be strong in the Micronesian community, resettled here from the Gilbert Islands (now known as Kiribati) in the 1960’s in colonial days. There are some big differences in their culture which revolves around the Maneaba (a communal meeting place). We currently have two more children from the same village who were adopted. Breast feeding is therefore curtailed and they are very prone to sickness. They also tend to have large families with home births. They are generally very sociable and happy people.
On Easter morning the women returned the empty tomb to tell the apostles that Jesus had risen: “But these words seemed to them an idle tale” and they did not believe them! Luke24 v 11.
We are spending our 5th Easter here in the Solomon Islands. Today is Good Friday when we think of our crucified saviour. This single act of sacrifice is the anchor of our faith – that God in Jesus loved human-kind so much that He went through the agony of the cross. But sometimes we feel that we are also like the apostles who thought that the women were bringing them an empty tale. When life is tough it is sometimes hard for us to see the risen saviour. We experience many challenges here in the Solomon Islands, some natural disasters, others man-made. We have been fortunate in the West Province to escape the devastation of the floods and earthquakes felt in Honiara and in other parts of Guadalcanal Province. Our second college of nursing graduation was affected by the rescheduling of events as a result, but went ahead yesterday when 17 student nurses received their diploma awards. In our work we are very much in touch with the suffering servant king through the lives of those who are sick. Praise God that death does not have the final word. His resurrection was not an idle tale and Jesus appeared to the apostles. He also appears to us through His Spirit with words of encouragement and times of joy. HE IS RISEN INDEED.
This week has felt like a kaleidoscope of life here with medical emergencies, a surgical tour and staff issues against the backdrop of tropical heat, storms and an earthquake. The second largest town in the Solomon Islands, with its international sea port, is home to National Fisheries and Soltuna cannery. It is served by two clinics which are seriously understaffed and under resourced, so we receive many referrals from them. This week included two maternity cases: the first was a mother struggling to deliver twins. Fortunately a vacuum extraction of the first twin allowed the 2nd to follow quickly afterwards. Mother and babies went home on Thursday. The second case was a diabetic mother who had a difficult delivery of a large baby. She then had a post-partum haemorrhage and arrived at the hospital collapsed. She recovered with resuscitation but remains weak.
Unfortunately our medical laboratory is not working well. The junior technician has gone to Gizo for further training, The technician in charge is apparently trying to support a candidate in the general election planned for later this year and our attempts to monitor his attendance at work have been met with hostility. As he has been put in charge of the candidate’s red truck, his movements are very visible and drawing comments from the general population.
On Monday evening, Andrew Telokana, our new Director of Nursing arrived. We are looking forward to working closely with him.On Wednesday we had a busy surgical day with two doctors visiting from Gizo and today a visiting general surgeon from Australia has screened patients for surgery in Gizo next week. We had just returned home when a storm broke and the house rocked with an earthquake.
From distributing water bottles after 10 days without rain, we were woken by the most dramatic tropical storm on Thursday night and news of flooding in Honiara. An old bridge collapsed, homes were destroyed, the airport flooded and some loss of life. Migration of people to the “big city” especially from Malaita Province with problems of land ownership has led to overcrowding in poor housing built on steep slopes and most of this has now been washed away. We hope that this will not lead to renewed tensions.
We were fortunate to have a visit from Rev Prince from the New Zealand Methodist Church accompanied by Rev Jay from the South Korean Methodist Church. They arrived before the storm and left to visit Sasmunga Hospital on Wednesday afternoon before the storm. The church in New Zealand continues to provide support for Helena Goldie Hospital and College of Nursing as well as Sasamunga Hospital. The inclement weather prevented the arrival of our new Director of Nursing from Choiseul, so we hope that Prince and Jay made it to Sasamunga.
As the airport in Honiara is currently closed due to flooding, their departure may be delayed and we are currently unable to transfer one of our nursing students suffering from a bowel obstruction. Fortunately she is stable with medical management. We did manage to transfer a patient earlier in the week with an elbow injury. He was attacked with a spear in mid-March and suddenly developed numbness down his forearm over 2 weeks later. It seems likely that he developed a problem with his artery at the elbow due to the original injury.