Friday 29 August
Back in the land of Oz
If evidence was required of the team’s arrival back in Australia … here it is. A happy-snap of the team (looking fit, well and sparky despite their early start) on arrival in Sydney this morning – all except Natalie, who was catching the later flight directly to Brisbane…
Once in Sydney, Andrew was met by his wife Nila for the drive north to Central Coast, Anh, Garry, Leticia and Robyn were heading back to Adelaide and from their onto Port Lincoln, Sue was catch a flight to Melbourne, along with Scott and Helen, with Scott and Helen then catching a further flight home to Launceston. Talk about a military operation in logistics.
WELL DONE EVERY ONE !!!
The people of Maewo will remember you for many years to come … partly because that’s the sort of people they are and partly because they have so little access to outside medical, dental and optical care, your arrival and attention will be seen as a real blessing from God.
Above: “Team Survivors” l-r Andrew, Sue, Anh, Leticia, Garry, Scott, Helen and Robyn (Natalie was also very much a “Team Survivor”, just on a different flight … to Brisbane)
Above: SPOT did stop briefly in Sydney, but here’s proof that at least some of the team returned to Melbourne
Stay tuned for more blog content and photos over the next week as team members send through their recollections and snaps. (Now they have access to telecommunications. Just imagine – being virtually cut off from modern communications for 14 days – no Facebook, Twitter, newsfeeds, email, web browsing … and then living to tell the tale !!
Robyn’s post-mission POST
Diary notes from the past 10 days …
(Refer to “Maewo journey begins” post from Saturday 16 August for earlier diary notes)
Leaving Nasawa, have found the local people here not so overwhelmingly friendly as at Asanvari, they keep to themselves more, though it is a much bigger community.The clinic days have been busy . The rest of our team are just great and we all get on famously. Scott is the group humourist, comes out with the funniest jokes and stories and keeps us amused. He and Helen are so knowledgeable and lovely with the patients. Sue and Ahn, the optometrists, are a great pair, work well together and are quiet but friendly.
The ute trip to Kere Bay (Kerepei) was a beautiful drive perched in the back of our very loaded truck. Stopped halfway to walk up a very pretty valley to visit a small hydroelectric scheme not quite completed yet, very interesting. We were given some bananas, paw paw and a large cucumber by some locals, yum.
Kere Bay: lovely open place with huge grassed area and massive mango trees. We have heard the mangoes are ripe but the trees are so high can only scrounge for them and hope to get them before the hermit crabs, bats and chooks!
Finally sorted sleeping quarters, girls at the higher end of settlement adjacent to bountiful veggie garden and under massive mango tree where we discovered the bats flew in from the huge mountain behind us and squealed and fought over mangoes all night. They joined the rooster and dog chorus, but we still managed to sleep. The local community greeted us formally with speeches and lovely Leis by the special shelter they had been built especially for us as our dining area !
We discovered the men’s house was much more palatial than ours with dry, clean shower and toilet, proper beds and a kitchen, so we made much use of their facilities and dubbed it the Man Cave, with Scotty’s bed pride of place in the lounge area with one leg of it broken and propped up by a small table, and a dodgy mossie net overhead.
Saturday 23rd – very busy clinic day, Garry and Nat have become a little competitive – who manages to extract the most teeth. Nat just in front at the moment. My area working very efficiently though did run out of gas. Andrew managed to find a new one, bless him!
Sunday 24th – to church early, faithful called to church with conch shell call ! short service. We then quickly got a few snacks and set off on 12km walk along the track north to visit a series of waterfalls called “Big Water”. Quite a trek through creeks and with lovely coastal views. Finally arrived at the river mouth, a series of shallow falls and pools, so cool and refreshing. Climbed up through jungle to a massive waterfall and waterhole, amazing cool swim and fun in the water. We had arranged for a ute to take us back to Kere Bay good move, as a bit weary.
Monday 25th – another busy clinic day but finished early as it got too hot in the afternoon, cool wade in river and sea but wary of swimming due to Stone fish.
Tuesday 26 – my beautiful twin daughters birthday 25yrs today. Teesh (Leticia) very kindly sent text message home for me. Drove up to a village called Naone for a morning clinic. Quite a drive, very bumpy trip with all our gear on back of ute. Set up clinic on wide cool verandah of local church, very busy, had quite a crowd of boys around me watching my pressure cooker steam and hiss. LOVELY LUNCH wasn’t it Scott!
Wednesday 27 – only one dental patient as the local villagers were having a Womens Cultural Festival, all dressed in beautifully woven pandanus skirts and some tops. We watched them, enthralled by their graceful beauty. Cooking demonstration interesting and then the men marched into village all dressed up in traditional garb, wonderful to see this very traditional side of their lives.
Final tooth extraction tally – Garry 167, Nat 166. Had moving speech at tea time and lovely woven bags presented to us. All packed and ready for early departure in the morning to top of island to airstrip.
Thursday 28th – slight delay with no driver and a ute that refused to get going. Finally on our way all perched on top of our luggage, would not cut it in Australia! Lovely drive along coast then up steep track to a plateau where the grass airstrip greeted us. Off loaded gear, so much of it ! then lay around in sun till we heard the plane. It whipped up the little runway, left one engine running whilst passengers got off and we then clambered in. A very short runway, then up we rose, feeling quite tearful looking down on our island that we so enjoyed working in its pretty villages and providing some help and relief to the most gentle, serene, happy, grateful people ever!
Between flights we spent a relaxing afternoon on the island of Santo, then another plane trip to Pt Vila where we gathered for our last meal together, a sleep in a motel in clean sheets, hot showers, then a very early rise to catch plane to Sydney then all departed to various states and homes.
WHAT A TRULY AMAZING AND INCREDIBLE TRIP. SO PROUD TO BE A PART OF SUCH A GREAT TEAM AND MADE SUCH FRIENDS AND HOPE TO HAVE LEFT THE ISLANDERS OF MAEWO WITH FOND MEMORIES OF OUR HELP AND FRIENDSHIP.
Home Base Reporting