We have finally left Popondetta, Oro Province’s capital, and we’re on “actual outreach” in other words we’re finally getting far remote!
We set for our first village, Ambene! Ambene is in a difficult piece of land… They are in the middle of the mountains and there’s a road 3hrs out of their village, but they can’t build or pave a road to connect their village as the land surrounding their village doesn’t belong to them and they don’t have permission to build on it. So instead of having a smooth ride, we take a 4WD and go bush for about 90min, crossing mud patches, river beds and beetle nut gardens.
Ambene is like a little lost paradise! Everything is green and luscious, the village is pretty; it’s in the shadow of a mountain and there’s even flowers bordering the paths!
It’s our very first village we visited so we started with health promotion, followed by clinic. A day wasn’t enough to see the sea of people that had gathered for services! We returned the second day and opted for the same format; health education to draw a crowd before clinic. We covered different topics on the second day to address the issues we had seen in clinic the previous day.
At the end of our helt toks (health education talks), we asked if there were any questions. One mother stood up and started speaking in the local dialect. It wasn’t long before her speaking turned into some loud, and animated expression. It pretty much looked like she was angry and shouting at us or at the community, I wasn’t sure.
Then I looked over at Philip (he’s a good friend and local health worker, fluent in over 12 dialects), I always turn to Philip in case of doubt. He seemed calm, purposefully looking at the mother and nodding his head in agreement. No need to worry, explanation will come… eventually!? Maybe :) The mother continued for what seemed like 5minutes. Then Philip thanked her and turned to us to explain!
The mother was beyond herself happy that we had come to visit and provide health care! She realized through our teachings that her village is a paradise where they pretty much have everything they need for life in abundance as long as they do a few things differently! She went from someone who had a fatalistic worldview about life and believed that sickness it a normal part of life to someone who is an activist for life and solution. She was encouraging her fellow villagers to build “tippy taps” or “leaky bottles” to help improve their hand washing & sanitation practices! She asked for our education charts to be able to spread her newly acquired knowledge with the ones that were in the field in the morning! She decided to act for change and no longer be ok with death and sickness in her community!
Needless to say, this doesn’t happen in every village at such a dramatic level, but it was such an encouragement to our team in our first few days to see the impact health education can have, the power of good, true and practical information in the hands of the villagers. Happy hearts!