While most teenagers spend their school holidays catching up on sleep, homework and movies – our Cairns and Cooktown youth ambassadors have gone against the tide and have chosen to spend their school holidays serving others.
For the last two weeks, the fearless four have been working alongside Yolonde Entsch, YWAM Medical Ships, Cairns Community Ambassador. The trip has been funded by the Cairns Corporate Challenge, a local fundraising initiative that has raised over $30,000 for YWAM Medical Ships work in PNG.
It has been an experience of a lifetime for our young ambassadors, like Brayden, 16, from Cairns who says, “I couldn’t think of a more influential trip for my first time out of Australia.” When asked why he chose to brave the muds of Gulf Province, he answered, “I got involved as I was looking for a way to give back. Now I can see more clearly the importance of dentists in in rural places like this.” Brayden is working towards being an orthodontist himself and hopes to return to PNG one day.
Although it was Brayden’s first trip out of the country, it wasn’t the case for all of the ambassadors. Jennaveve, 17, from Cairns, spent two years of her childhood growing up in PNG with her parents, and couldn’t wait to get back. “My favourite thing has been the kids” she said. “I love teaching and I love watching them smile, they’re so grateful. Let’s just say, there’s been a lot of duck, duck, goose!”
Of course none of this would have been possible without Yolonde, who is gradually experiencing the rich diversity of PNG. Her two years as Community Ambassador for Cairns has already taken her to Central Province, Milne Bay and now Gulf Province. This trip to Gulf has understandably been the highlight, the ambassadors being the precious fruit of her hard work and commitment to the communities of Cairns and PNG. She hopes that the trip will allow the ambassadors to reflect on their own lives and inspire them to contribute to their own communities back home.
“I have really enjoyed watching the confidence with which the ambassadors have jumped into their different roles,” she smiles. “All of a sudden they are helping with physiotherapy, testing for visual acuity and prescribing reading glasses. It all happens so quickly!” When asked what her favourite part of being in the optometry team has been, it didn’t take long for Yolonde to decide, “I enjoy fitting each person with the right glasses for their face, I think there was one man I tried ten different pairs on for!” she laughed.
By the end of this outreach Yolonde and the four ambassadors will have worked long, hot days in optometry, primary healthcare, community engagement and dentistry, across more than twenty villages in the Gulf Province. Next week it will be time for them to say goodbye to their floating ship family and head back home. There’s no doubt the YWAM Medical Ships ambassadors will have a different kind of school holiday to talk about with their friends!
Under 18? Learn more about our Youth Ambassador program, https://ywamships.org.au/volunteer/ambassadors/#youth