“This Is Number 10… 7 Died!”

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Meet Epa, She lives in Ibuo with her 3 children. I first saw Epa on the bank of the river as we came into her village. She was one of the only ones that spoke English. We informed the people in the village of our presence and came to clinic with her last born. Epa brought her child for immunisations. She introduced him as “This is number 10; 7 died”.

No emotions on her face, simply stating the facts. But her presence alone was a cry of despair. She was asking for immunisations, she knew that it could possibly save this last one. She wasn’t quite sure why all the other ones passed away; pneumonia, malaria, TB, or diarrhea… but she wanted all the help she could get with this one. She ended up being one of the only mothers that came to clinic with her children, unfortunately many were gone to the sago camp for a few weeks.

We were able to reinforce the importance of immunisation and regular health checks, but reality is that this village lived so far away from anything and in such hostile waters that they barely ever go to the health centre. In cases like this I have to hold on to the belief that we made a difference. Belief that women in the village are going to change their view of health and sicknesses, stop entertaining a fatalistic worldview and start hoping and believing for change and health.

Epa hoped for a better future for her last born. My prayer is that Epa’s story would be transformed from a story of death into one of hope that becomes a catalyst for change in the hearts of mothers in the remotes parts of PNG.

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