Meeting Paul Biama for the first time, I immediately noticed his wide smile, his white grizzled beard and his gentle manner. When he tells me that he is a midwife, I can easily imagine tiny babies in those wide, strong capable hands.
Paul- a father of three and grandfather of six- has spent the last seven years serving the people of Daru, the capital of its province, and the Western Province region as a volunteer working in local health education and services.
Due to the remote and vast diversity of the region some areas are very hard to access, leaving locals without access to basic health needs. Despite the work being done in Daru the health needs of the 20,000 people who live in this region are significant.
Daru is one of three hotspots for tuberculosis in Papua New Guinea. The epidemic is so severe in the Western Province, the situation has been declared a national emergency. As partners in the dedicated worldwide task force Stop TB, YWAM Medical Ships and the local World Vision team worked together during YWAM’s most recent visit to the area to educate communities in far-flung areas in preventing the spread of tuberculosis, dispensing medications and also in delivering primary health care.
Health care workers in isolated areas need a diverse range of skills, and in addition to his work preventing TB, Paul has provided antenatal care, delivered and looked after newborns and their mothers. His contributions are well recognised and he has a number of namesakes around the region.
“I gave my name to six of the babies I delivered” he grins proudly.
Working as a Community Health Volunteer means Paul has access to a small monthly allowance, but the pay is not enough for his family to live on. Paul supplements his income by selling lollies and biscuits at a small stall outside his home.
After working in Papua New Guinea since 2010, YWAM Medical Ships are well known and well respected throughout the country and Paul plans to apply to volunteer on an outreach in the near future.
“I have seen how the YWAM Medical Ship is working to help my people and I would like to work with them and go into other areas, especially to help stop the spread of tuberculosis.” said Paul.
To find out more information about volunteering with YWAM Medical Ships, visit www.ywamships.org.au