Monday, October 13, 2008

Mando, Papua New Guinea

The completed classrooms - last day in Mando

Me and newborn at Goroka Hospital

Our PNG "home"

I am starting my new blog to share the amazing experience of being a Rotary volunteer in Mando in the Eastern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea. Mando is an absolutely beautiful village, in the mountains about 2000 metres above sea level, and approximately 60 km from Goroka. How did this happen? A few years ago, I met a remarkable woman with a vision, Wendy Stein, who wanted to make a difference and bring hope to people whose life expectancy was the second worst in the world. I promised to help her project to bring better educational and health facilites to this village and last month, my husband Jim and I were part of the Highland Dream team. Essentially, Jim was involved with building three new classrooms - no mean feat without a supply of water and electricity. I established a women's support group and taught classes in jewellery making, knitting and crochet in an effort to supplement their family incomes as subsistence farmers. I also experienced other aspects of the project - painting blackboards, sorting library books, making library borrowing cards, cooking, painting signs , taking photos ... Although I have no medical training, I had the great privilege of watching a volunteer doctor from Cameroon perform cataract operations with great dexterity and care (one every 15 minutes) and even greater excitement when I happened to be at the birth of a healthy baby girl! Other members of our team were involved in building a piggery and a chicken coop, organising the school library, literacy lessons, assessing children with disabilites with the hope of establishing a special needs class in 2009, vaccination days, hospital and medical clinic visits. Together, I think we were able to meet our goal of helping to "make dreams real" for these wonderful people in Mando village. We made many friends and we will never forget the warm and close relationships we developed with individuals we worked with - both Australian Rotarians on the team, and the local people in Mando. As one of our team summed up " It is a privilege to help this community - a proud and dignified people" . This is just a tiny glimpse of what we did - I wish I could post all my photos!

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