Dr. Sawyer Serving with Samaritan's Purse

Dr. Sawyer Serving with Samaritan's Purse
Papua New Guinea

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Jungle Village Childbirth Attendant Classes

Shortly before our arrival in Yifififiki the Hewa men build this open air classroom with a one room medical clinic and storeroom on the back side.  The dark blue tarp on the opposite side was donated by Samaritan's Purse International Relief, and these tarps provided our students with shade and protection from the rain.  

The curriculum of the Community Based Health Care and the Village Childbirth Attendant course normally takes months to get through, so we had to pick and choose our topic carefully to cover the highlights and the most important items during our five teaching days.  We had lost a day due to being stuck at the airstrip in Fiyawana due to the cloudy weather.  

Our students were from at least five tribes from the surrounding region.  On one side of our open air classroom we had most of the women and children.  On the opposite side of the classroom were the men and young boys.  Even the dogs, chickens, rooster, and a young cassowary would come in and listen briefly to our teaching.  

The first few days were taught by PNG national Matthew Galman. Last August Matthew was in a head on collision with a truck and was extracted from his vehicle with a right sided pelvic fracture, however, the rescue team had to break his left leg to free it from the wreckage.  When I spoke to people about Matthew they said, "before the accident, Matthew was a good man. After the accident, Matthew has become a great man.  As I got to know Matthew I appreciated how true this was.  He has a genuine love for people and an amazing gift at being able to teach and to communicate.  He speaks English beautifully, but also speaks Melanesian Pidgin as well as a half dozen local languages.

Matthew Galman teaching class.
Matthew spent the first few days covering mostly personal hygiene issues.  We had brought 150 toothbrushes and 150 tubes of toothpaste, and Matthew explained to his students how to brush their teeth.  These people had never even had a toothbrush before. 

Dr. Stephanie Doenges and Dr. Becky Morsch spent an entire day on normal childbirth.  The following day I taught on complications of childbirth, including postpartum hemorrhage, fetal malpresentations, postpartum fever, and management of delivery of the placenta.   

Faimpat was one of the key men among the Hewa.  I liked him immediately.  He spoke pidgin flawlessly and could translate for us into Hewan.  When I taught I used Matthew to translate to Pidgin and then Faimpat would translate into Hewan.  On the second day that we were there Faimpat cut the bottom of his foot while playing soccer on the mud court.  He had a laceration between his first and second toe on his left foot.  I washed his foot and applied antibiotic ointment daily, and on the second day I placed a single suture so that the laceration would stay together.  He really needed a pair of shoes, so I removed my sandals and put them on his feet.  He was so happy to have a pair of shoes.  I think they might have been the first pair of shoes that he has ever had. 

When we our very condensed five day course the people were extremely grateful.  They told us that they never had heard nor been taught so many of these things.  The men in particular were so grateful for having been taught about childbirth, and about how they could help the women in their tribe when giving birth.  They explained that no doctors had ever come to help them before.  To express their gratitude, the last day that we were in Yifififiki the various tribes pulled together and cooked four enormous pigs 
and served a feast for everyone who had come to the training.  They gave us their spears and the women gave our ladies hand woven bilums (large open bags or purses) that they had woven from tree bark.  Their gratitude was genuine and sweet. 
Faimpat translating for us.
Faimpat's bandaged foot & shoes.
Dr. Sawyer teaches delivery of the placenta.
Dr. Becky Morsch (kneeling) shows a Hewa woman
how to stop a postpartum hemorrhage on patient
Dr. Stephanie Doenges.  Teresa Sawyer (top left) watches
with Susie McGough and Mikenna Kopf (left)
and Susan Kopf (right).

1 comment:

  1. That's great that the men are excited about learning more on childbirth. What a great experience!