A group of four young people from Waihi Baptist Church accompanied by six adults, completed an 18-day outreach onboard YWAM’s Medical Ship, the MV YWAM PNG in remote areas of Papua New Guinea (PNG).
The MV YWAM PNG is a former cruise ship that was purchased and re-purposed as a medical ship by YWAM Medical Ships in 2014, onboard the vessel is a four-chair dental clinic, day procedure unit, laboratory and small boats to transport primary health care and optometry teams ashore.
The Waihi team joined 90 or so other volunteers from 15 different nations to help deliver primary health care, dentistry, optometry and health education to remote islands and coastal communities.
Over 11 clinic days, 4,796 people received healthcare and training in 21 villages throughout Milne Bay Province. Services delivered included over 1,000 immunisations, more than 700 pairs of glasses dispensed and over 600 dentistry procedures.
Team member and Waihi College student, Ben Franzoi, said that his time in PNG was incredibly impacting.
“I was a volunteer on the optometry team and community engagement team. It was really amazing seeing a patient’s reaction when they tried on their pair of glasses for the first time, suddenly they could see so much clearer.
“I also really enjoyed working on the community engagement team, teaching children things like how to wash your hands, and how to brush your teeth – simple things that we are privileged to learn growing up in New Zealand.
“There were days that were really hard – working in the heat, not knowing the language, and seeing really challenging living conditions with my own eyes.
“I’ve returned home so much more grateful for what I have here in Waihi. I think about the people in PNG every day and hope I’ll have the opportunity to return, I’d love to be an optometrist myself one day!” said Ben.
Team leader and Waihi Baptist Youth Pastor, Ernani de Ocampo, said that their time onboard the YWAM Medical Ship was an enriching experience for everyone on the team.
“There were many factors that made the outreach such a special time for us – the opportunity for the older people in our church to rub shoulders and encourage the young people in the team to step out of their comfort zone was one.
“Another really amazing thing for me to see as a youth leader was our young people coming alive as they served, spoke in front of people, and immersed themselves in a culture so different to their own. It really built confidence in each of them and helped them to see their potential in taking their place as a world changers – I was so proud of them,” said Ernani.
The MV YWAM PNG has just returned to her home port, Townsville, after completing a successful five-month outreach in PNG.
Applications are now open for YWAM Medical Ships next set of outreaches in PNG, October 2016 – May 2017. For more information, visit the YWAM Medical Ships website, www.ywamships.org.au/volunteer/