- Meet Us
- Patient Information
- Contact Us
I’m trying to collect and summarize my thoughts while they are still fresh in my mind. Speaking for myself, Papua New Guinea would be a (impossibly) hard place to live, given my life to this point. That fact commands an awesome respect toward Fred Hargesheimer for his vision, efforts, money, and especially the years he spent living here teaching the children and helping to guide the local villagers towards some sort of organized economic base. Similarly, I am in awe of Dr. Scott Kellermann for trading his life as a respected physician in Nevada City for Uganda, despite its massive lack of medical care. Don’t think I could do that, either. Pondering the achievements of those men however, was what I needed about 2:00 pm on a few of those hot and sweaty afternoons last week, to finish my schedule out.
Rather than bore you with the details of my laborious trip, I’ll skip to the summary. I had five back-to-back flights, beginning in Papua New Guinea, Australia, Singapore, South Korea, and finally San Francisco. Six hours driving, 26 hours of flight time, and 18 hours of waiting in airports add up to 50 hours of time for the door-to-door trip. As much as I like to fly, this schedule was over the top. I wish I had taken a few more days to decompress before going back to work….
Singapore has an incredible airport, including Starbucks, Hard Rock Cafe, Montblanc, Rolex, Swarovski, Bulgari, and Gucci stores, among many others. Free wifi, free charging stations for cell phones, free movies, and a swimming pool. It is the 8th busiest airport in the world. I met a Boeing engineer from Oklahoma while wearing my Oklahoma t-shirt.
Aside from the marathon travel itinerary, everything went well — the airplane food was pretty decent, got a little bit of sleep, watched a couple of movies, read a couple of books, didn’t get seated next to the screaming baby section, and my bags were checked clear through from PNG to SFO. On the flight from Brisbane to Singapore, I was seated next to Ann, a travel agent from London. She was heading to Saigon to meet up with a friend. They had planned 10 days to explore North and South Viet Nam. Note to self: hire a travel agent when you’re making your first trip to a really exotic destination. Remind me to tell you about my first (and Last) trip to Saigon that I planned all by myself.
Customs was a slick as could be and my Park-and-Ride guy picked me up within 20 minutes of my call. You guessed it, Popeye’s Chicken was my first USA meal. Fast forward to sitting here in Grass Valley; I’m looking at the enormous pile of laundry and decided to blog and watch Saturday Night Live instead.
I’ve reported everything I had planned to about our clinic by now, unless some other things come to light once our team arrives back home and we debrief ourselves. I thought I would touch on a few questions that are often asked of us who do charity work, before I wrap this up.
One of the most common comments I hear goes something like this, “With all the needs of the people here in Nevada County and California, have you thought about doing some charity work here?” That answer is always quick because it requires no thought. I do plenty of free or reduced surgery here. Some of it is requested through the dental societies, some is organized elsewhere, some is requested from the various hospitals, clinics, and non-profit agencies, like Dentistry With a Heart, or RAM. Sometimes the situation of a patient come to my attention by unique and/or individual circumstances. Occasionally I simply do some work for a patient that he needs but can’t afford. Most if not all of my colleagues I worked with the last two weeks would have similar stories to tell.
People are curious about the R&R we usually combine with a project, and whether that is a good use of funds. This too is an easy question to answer. This project was performed without any funds from our parent Rotary International Foundation. Funds were provided by the 49er Breakfast and Granite Bay (local Rotary) Clubs but were used solely to purchase equipment like the generator, air compressor, batteries and converters and to transport said equipment and some other dental supplies to Ewasse School. Patterson and Henry Schein Dental Companies donated some supplies and the Academy of General Dentistry also donated $1,000 towards our project. We volunteers paid for our own lodging, meals, and airplane tickets.
The bottom line is that we mostly sponsor ourselves to get to and from the project site. Doing dentistry is a very stressful way to spend the day and it is doubly or triply so under field conditions such as this. I didn’t feel that I could be gone from my practice longer than the project timeline itself, but that was my personal decision. I generally do prefer to take a few days to relax and recover from the stress and energy of a mission like this, and since it’s not being charged to Rotary, the ‘correctness’ of combining some R&R is a non-issue.
Finally, some people ask how we choose our auxiliary staff for our projects. Obviously dental professionals (dentists, assistants, hygienists) provide the critical manpower, but we can’t work in a vacuum. Most of us need a chairside assistant most of the time, and one person is needed to gather, cleanse/sterilize, and return instruments to the clinicians or the work comes to a screeching halt. One person can keep up with 4 or 5 dentists, but another is needed for additional dentists. We need people to help us screen, including interpreters, and administrators to help with patient supply, transportation, and funneling the patients to the docs in an efficient way.
More people are needed to supply us with power, air, and keep the equipment and mechanical things running. Vacuum tanks need to be dumped, generators need fuel, hoses need to be assembled, trash cans need to be procured, emptied, and replaced. We need to eat and drink, and often times the patients need to be fed depending on the location and their travel arrangements. People are needed to count out medicine tablets into bags and label them, or to help print post-op instructions, cut the pages in half, give referral instructions for patients who have needs we can’t provide, or who have postoperative complications after we’re gone.
We needed to be in communication with the other schools (Naou and International) several times to coordinate efforts and schedules. Several trips were made to the local pharmacy, and we needed things from the general store. Some of the needs were associated with the dental treatment, while the education and construction elements had their own logistical and practical needs.
To keep our 5 dentists, a hygienist, and one oral and maxillofacial surgeon productive, at any given time the other 11 team members and up to another 10 to 20 people were engaged, at least for part of the day. Thus, each dentist may require 2 to 4 support people for a large clinic like this to operate. Setting up and tearing down are major productions in and of themselves. Of course the system is flexible depending on the locale and the type of facility used, the number/type/specific needs of the patients. Just choosing, prioritizing, and processing the patients is one of the most difficult aspects of the program to manage.
Once the clinic needs are under control, some of the jobs vanish and others will pop up; a very dynamic situation. What we have very little capacity for is onlookers. As you can tell from my description, there is a tremendous amount of work to do for our projects, but not all the people are needed doing everything all the time, so flexibility, communication and cooperation are key. Egos and keeping track of ‘who gets the credit’ and ‘who’s in charge’ cause problems and those attitudes are best left back at home. Everyone takes a few photos, but we don’t need and can’t accommodate self appointed journalists who stand around in the middle of the action and ask questions while we’re trying to work.
I think this is a good time to end my blogging, at least until the team gets back, if there is a need to supplement the information. Thank you for your attention and interest, from me and from the team. Equally important were/are your prayers and thoughts for the safety and success of our trip. Earthquakes were very close but did not damage, the power line broke and fell down literally across the street from our guesthouse, and many miles were collectively traveled by yours truly and the team butts bouncing off of the benches without more than a bruise or two. A couple of our team had a cold or briefly upset tummy, but no Malaria or Montezema’s Revenge was experienced. Yet. Two dozen passengers were killed in a plane crash (PNG Airlines, not Air Niugini) on the Islands very close to us. The worst thing was a couple of flights were delayed and one was canceled but our safety was never an issue. There were a few skin punctures from instruments, but mostly with instruments that were sterile or unused, so no significant HIV exposures were encountered. The team has been protected or spared some very real risks over the last two weeks. Very fortunate indeed.
You who make up our support network back home are also vital for the success of the project, and you don’t get much credit. Larry Meek for instance traveled to PNG earlier this year and provided us with a ton of information and worked out the PNG support system and logistical details that served to pave the way for our successful trip. Countless people, Rotarians or not, worked behind the scenes in too many ways to mention. I don’t pretend to have a comprehensive perspective of all the duties and all of the personalities that were involved.
I am grateful to have a career that I enjoy and that allows me to contribute to the betterment of others by simply doing my day to day job, assisted by others, in special projects like this. I am equally blessed to have fallen in with colleagues that enjoy the same sort of thing and who are willing to coordinate our schedules in order to organize a health clinic like this. I was honored by my PNG patients through their varied and repeated expressions of gratitude and genuine appreciation. I’m not a newcomer to charity work, and with that background, I’m confident to say that the other local ‘workers’ (paid or not) are to be ranked among the very top of the list for their great attitude and tireless assistance. Suffice it to say we couldn’t have done the project without the heavy support of Graham King and Hargy Oil Palm, Ltd. The dental team has a pretty long collective work history, but I don’t want to neglect to thank each and every one for their contributions to the effort.
Last but not least, a special thanks to my best friend, assistant, wife, and bag packer extraordinaire, Karen. She provided much of the work behind the scenes that made me look good and allowed me to accomplish the things that I did.
Yours in Service,
Steve Leighty, DDS
In case you’re wondering, I tossed and turned for a couple of hours due to excitement for the trip home. We had our alarms set for 2:30 am and our 5 jeep caravan left the guesthouse at 3:30 am. One has to be here to really appreciate the roads here. Pavement gives way to gravel, then to dirt and back again for over two hours. And they grow the potholes really big here. Some places the road is barely 1-1/2 lanes wide, and other times you could fit 4 cars across. Picture this at 100km/hr with alternating fog and dirt ever so briefly obscuring the road.
Keep in mind our drivers were professional and not taking any risks; I’m just making a statement about the road system in rural New Britain Island. We learned during our tour of Hargy Oil yesterday that if weren’t for their efforts with road maintenance, the roads would be nearly impassable. Most of the bridges we drove across are Japanese sectional metal bridges of varying lengths, but exactly the same width and shiny metal roadway. One particularly high river crossing had no bridge structure at all (it had been washed away during a flood) but was just the road bed barely one lane wide. Our driver Roger aimed the jeep straight down the center, nice and slow.
Complete darkness until the eastern sky started showing a faint blue light at 5:30. We arrived at the airport in Hoskins at 5:45, went through security and had a breakfast of sandwiches without crust and apples. We said our good-byes to our drivers, who stayed until we were airborne. Our one hour flight arrived in Port Moresby without a hitch.
Now it was time for our own farewells. Barry, Sharyn and I headed for the International terminal while the other 13 headed for a local hotel to wait the 6 hours until their flight to Goroka, PNG, which is the gateway for the Highlands, where the group will tour starting tomorrow. Barry and Sharyn are headed for Australia. I will be cooling my jets in the Brisbane airport until 11:45 pm – can’t get much more red eye than that. I will fly to Singapore and then non-stop to San Francisco.
Good news is that my bags are checked through to SFO. Bad news is that I am seated in Economy; I just pray I’m not in the families with babies section.
We were told when we arrived that Papua New Guinea is the land of the unexpected. As you recall, our Port Moresby – Hoskins flight was canceled last week. Well, today my flight scheduled for 1:30 pm showed up as delayed until 5:00 pm, but in actuality it was rescheduled for 2:30 pm. It took several hours to get that figured out, however. We were in line to check in from 9 until 9:45, when the ticket agent told us to come back at 10:00. At ten, they said to come back at 11:00, so we grabbed a quick lunch in the cafe. The mystery was that Air Niugini wanted to combine two flights into one, so they split the difference between the originally scheduled departure times.
I didn’t bring my iPad, I have no books, magazines, or even a newspaper to read except the instruction manual for my camera. There are three gift shops in the Port Moresby airport and I couldn’t find a single item of reading material for sale. Maybe I should take a nap.
The departure lounge was packed with people and even though we were sure we knew which plane we would board soon, the announcement came and we saw large groups of people head off in two directions. We checked with the ticket agents only to learn that there were actually three flights going to or through Brisbane from Port Moresby within a 20 minute time period. Our flight wasn’t even called yet! And everyone was speaking English!
It was kind of like a Saturday Night Live skit. Actually it reminded us of departing Kathmandu three years ago in which hundreds of people were jammed in a large room with standing room only. Every 15 or 20 minutes an announcement was made (which we couldn’t make heads nor tails of) and so we would gather up our carry-ons and go for the door, only to be turned around numerous times by the agent until finally our flight was called and she let us pass.
Bottom line is that the flight originally scheduled for 1:30 pm took off at 3:00. Just before our announcement, I bought a bottle of water to take on the plane. To my surprise, at we entered the end of the jetway, a ‘final’ security check had been installed, which included hand searching all carry on luggage. The PNG version of a TSA agent got my brand spanking new icy cold bottle of water to boot. How can this be? We’d already been cleared by security and were past the departure lounge. Oh yes, I remember Garua’s words “PNG is the land of the unexpected.”
I also forgot to ask for an exit row or window seat, and got an aisle seat, but the plan was only half full so lots of space. It was a three hour flight which included beef with gravy, yellow white rice, a wheat roll and some sort of bread pudding.
I found a newspaper to read on board but it was kind of like a tabloid with a bunch of articles from Papua New Guinea I couldn’t relate to. There was a short paragraph about Muammar Gaddafi being killed, but I couldn’t really tell whether it was confirmed or not.
Brisbane airport looked so modern when I popped through the transfer walkway and into the great departure hall. Three coffee shops, two bookstores, several gift shops……but no Popeye’s Chicken. I did score some reading material, including Eric Clapton’s autobiography, as I have about 5 hours to kill before I depart for Singapore and San Francisco.
For those geography buffs, Singapore is 3,800 miles NW of Brisbane and then San Francisco is 8,500 miles northeast of Singapore. That figures into more than 24 hours of flying time starting at midnight tonight. Let’s see, that will make a total door to door time of about 48 hours from PNG back to Grass Valley. I can’t deal with those figures right now. I’ll be fresh as a daisy when I go through customs at SFO on Saturday.
Gotta go for now — probably one more blog will follow after I get back on the ground in California.
I had the best nights’ sleep ever last night, as I was so exhausted I don’t even remember my head hitting the pillow.
We are not doing patient care today as our schedule is filled with tearing down our clinic, packing for our early departure (we leave the guesthouse about 3:30 am), learning about Hargy Oil, and attending the farewell celebration. One of the administrative duties we dentists have is to tabulate our production in terms of patient numbers and demographics, numbers of procedures performed, and their corresponding production value in US dollars.
I’m now in my 10th day without Starbucks coffee to start my day. Because our only coffee at the guesthouse is instant, and because I have certain boundaries I just can’t cross, I’ve been drinking Lipton tea in the morning with breakfast. Thanks to Hargy IT department, I was able to send two days’ worth of blogs this morning. I am awaiting my driver to return to Ewasse where the rest of the team is tearing down and starting to pack for our return journey.
We are also gathering our unused medical supplies and materials to donate to the local pharmacist, Joseph, who has been an asset and has become a friend. He has a spirit of charity as well, and will pass along donated item to deserving individuals. We have an even larger pile including a new Canon printer to donate to Philomena Eku, the local dental therapist. There is no full dentist here, so Philomena as a dental therapist, provides simple dental services to the area citizens. She completed a two year training program at the University of PNG in Port Moresby. She performs extractions, fillings, and dental hygiene services for a low fee. She receives her paycheck from the PNG government.
After another session at HOPL’s IT office, my driver then took me to catch up with the rest of the team in the palm plantation. We were able to see firsthand the palm oil fruit being harvested. A picker holds a 16’ aluminum pole with a sharp sickle on the top and maneuvers it in order to cut down a 50# pod of fruit. Some of the individual fruit inevitably falls off which the women pick up in a bag. Another person picks up the pods into a stack, and another makes a stack of the fronds that fall with the fruit. Each man has a goal of two tons of fruit per day. Watching this harvesting up close and personal makes hay baling look like child’s play. Regarding wages, a palm harvester makes twice the wages of a general laborer.
After the plantation tour, we watched Graham King, the general manager for HOPL, give a powerpoint presentation in the Boardroom of the Bialla plant. He explained the multiple steps that the fruit takes from the field to the palm oil stage, which then goes to one of six large tanks. From the tanks, the oil is sent down a half-mile pipeline to be loaded on a tanker ship which leaves about once a month to northern Europe where it is off-loaded for refinement and further processing.
Following our palm oil education, we went back to Ewasse school to finish packing our dental equipment. Probably 100 pounds of materials, supplies and medicines were given to Philomena Eku, the dental therapist. As I’ve previously mentioned, she acted as my first assistant each day in the clinic. She also had the forethought to bring several dental syringes. I used up all of my local anesthetic after the first three days, and I was getting tired of bumming carpules from my colleagues. We discovered a cache of 4% lidocaine with epinephrine in a container next to our makeshift clinic, but the interesting thing was that it was manufactured for the Australian market and the carpule was longer than my syringes would accept. US carpules hold 1.7ml of fluid, while the Aussie version held 2.2ml and was another centimeter longer. The needles were not a problem, so using Philomena’s syringe, I had an endless supply of my favorite local anesthetic. That’s probably TMI for my non-dental readers, but it was a big deal for me. I also never imagined I would learn about the volume of Australian dental cartridges 8,000 miles from home?
The highlight of the day was the Farewell celebration. Speeches were given by two members of the first class of people to be educated at the school, one of whom is the chairman of the Hargesheimer Foundation, the principals for two of the three schools we worked at, and the Methodist pastor.
One by one we were called up to be dressed with the traditional wrap-around skirt (laplap), along with a polo shirt with Bialla printed on it, and the traditional knap sack. The women were presented with the laplap and a one piece dress. We were given other gifts such as a volunteer certificate, and a designer cloth I plan to frame. Our group then sang America the Beautiful, This Land is Your Land, and California Here we Come for the crowd.
Our third feast of the ten day period was then served, followed by traditional dancing and singing by five groups of children, from the younger to the older grades. The children all wore grass shirts, and their faces were painted. The drummers used short pieces of large bamboo with slits and holes cut into the pieces.
After the meal, we mingled with the crowd and talked and joked with the people. Many of the kids asked us to sign the back of their shirt with a marker. We shook hundreds of hands, each one thanking us for our work and wishing us safe travels. Thousands of photos were taken, and millions of hugs. As we loaded our bags into our vans and climbed inside, the throngs of people pressed in and we felt like rock stars for a few minutes as our procession slowly moved out of the compound.
At our nightly briefing, we added up the combined totals and we are able to announce that our team produced in excess of $200,000 of dentistry was over the course of 6 patient treatment days. This roughly doubled the production we did in Nepal in 2008, but we had one more clinician and worked one more day. Regardless, we were astonished at the totals when we figured it up. This figure does not take into account any of the construction labor, the education efforts, and the materials and supplies donated. At this point we were feeling very proud of our trip. Some final packing and then off to bed we went. Our alarms will go off at 2:30 am, as we need over two hours to drive to Hoskins and check in for our flight at 7:10 am.
I wonder if I can fall asleep with all the anticipation…..
No earthquakes, no power outage, no rain, and no new bug bites — this day is getting off to a good start. We all shared Ann’s PNG honey on our toast this morning since she learned that honey can’t pass through Australian customs.
We’ve nearly finished treating all of the schoolchildren in the three target schools so the dental clinic will be opened today to the high school students, teachers, Hargy employees and the community at large. The difference we expect to see would include more disease and pathology, and more hardened stains/deposits. In summary they have much more need.
Although it seemed like a daunting task upon our arrival, we actually DID complete treating all the school children that needed treating, as well as a number of teachers, volunteers, Hargy employees, as well as citizens of Biala.
Lunch today included: sandwiches, pineapple, cucumber, papaya, mango, pomolo, white watermelon, red watermelon, green oranges (don’t ask me to explain — it’s green on the outside and orange on the inside), pastry cups with eggplant (I never eat eggplant but I had two of these), and cookies.
One of the interesting things about the patients today were that we knew some of them — the drivers, waitstaff, housekeepers, teachers, volunteers, and their families and friends. We have all been touched by the warm personalities of the volunteers and other workers we work with on a daily basis.
We worked until after dark tonight and our team was definitely drained. Most people thought today was the hottest and sweatiest day yet. We probably saw the most (or next to the most) number of patients today. The shower at the guesthouse is a pleasure not to be missed.
Dinner buffet at the clubhouse tonight. Chicken, cole slaw, rice, tarrow, sweet potatoes, corned beef, spinach, pineapple, with pumpkin tart and ice cream for dessert.
We are expected to sing again tomorrow at our going away celebration, so we’ve decided upon America the Beautiful and California Here I Come. We will also be meeting some diplomats tomorrow and will be handing out gifts to the workers, and of course there will be food.
We’ve been promised a powerpoint show of the harvesting and processing of the palm oil sometime. While Fred Hargesheimer certainly was the sparkplug and inspiration for our being here, the reality is that Hargy Oil Ltd. has provided or made possible our long range planning, ground transportation, security, lodging, communication and power needs for our operation. We are looking forward to learning about the palm oil industry.
The photo below is out of order, as it shows our team boarding the last inbound flight leg to Hoskins from last week. Our flight out will be early Friday morning.
When we arrive at the guesthouse last night after dinner, there were two power surges where the lights went out for about 30 seconds and then back on. In between those power surges, my internet access returned and I quickly went to my email page and retrieved exactly one message before my connection threw me off again. Although Sharyn and Howard have had continual access, I do not and so am resigned to the fact that I will have to go to Hargy’s IT department again today to file these blogs.
More tomorrow, SML
Karen and I were just stirring this morning about 6:00 am and were greeting by an earthquake (5.7 magnitude) that gently but solidly shook our guesthouse on poles. We felt a smaller one an hour later. Others reported feeling half a dozen smaller tremors throughout the night. A 6.2 quake struck at 3:00 pm this afternoon. Google had reports of 6.5 quake near PNG several days ago but nothing about today’s shaker.
I was able to go to the IT department at Hargy Palm Oil Ltd., and they got me internet access which allowed me to post yesterday’s blog and retrieve my email. Although being a developing country, the IT room at HOPL looked like any other IT room I’ve seen with stacks of servers, routers, switches, and blinking little red and green lights.
Lunch today was lasagne and cole slaw, with fresh-sliced pineapple and mango. Lots of sun today and few clouds later in the afternoon bringing a welcome breeze. Scattered earthquakes were felt through the day.
Today the logistics grew more complicated, as most of us were working at Ewasse, but one dentist was screening patients at the International School (next to our guesthouse), and Harry/Bill and their team left at 6:00 am for Noau school to work. In the meanwhile, we were able to treat some teachers and villagers while waiting on the new group of children to arrive.
Hal DeGraw had his hands full running the show at the International School, making departing plans with Graham King (our host and Hargy Oil general manager), overseeing the financial responsibilities of our group of 16, and working with the administrators and teachers at the Ewasse school.
Barbara Weiss and Robin Prechter worked non-stop in the sterilization table keeping 5 dentists, one oral surgeon and one deputized hygienist with clean instruments all day long. We don’t have steam autoclaves, but we are using chlorine dioxide soaks for a ‘cold sterile’ solution. Imagine if you will keeping instruments with tiny colored tape separate from all the others’ instruments and speeding them back to the respective dentists as soon as possible so as not to slow progress. Bravo to these ladies who are not doing a spotlight job but whose contributions were absolutely critical.
Regardless of how many or how few or the age of the prospective patients at the clinic, one guy who was always in demand was Mike Ferguson, who worked tirelessly everyday performing tooth cleaning (dental hygiene). Virtually none of the inhabitants have ever seen a dentist, and so 10 or 15 or 20 or 50 years of calculus and tartar are a formidable challenge for tooth cleaning as you might imagine. The betelnut habit adds insult to injury, as the blood red stains are impervious to everything but an air chisel.
Our construction crew (Harry and Bill) left the guesthouse early this morning bound for a two-hour ride towards the Noau school. When they arrived on site, they worked with four local volunteers (Barney, Allan, Mitch, and Joe) to do a number of repairs on the main buildings. Their project including repairs on the porches and some desks, as well as the gutters that are used for water capture.
On an ongoing basis, Harry and Bill have been working with Hargy Oil employees and local volunteers rebuilding one of the teachers’ quarters. Hargy Oil and the Hargesheimer Foundation have provided materials, ground transportation, and workers. Without their work in keeping us clinicians full of electricity, compressed air, and vacuum, our work would have been limited to battery power equipment or hand instruments.
Although Howard Wilson’s thrust was in education, he had no clue that he would be trusted with teaching for a sick teacher who handed off lesson plans, and instructions for how to go through the workbooks.
He was even administering tests at the end of each section. His most memorable experience with his 5th grade class came about when one of the children asked about the safety of our President, after being shown a photo of the White House. Howard discussed terrorism (which the children were aware of) and referenced 9-11 and United Flight 93. To his surprise, not one of the 5th graders had ever heard of 9-11. Put in terms they could relate to, Howard described the buildings 100 times taller than a palm tree into which terrorists aimed two jet airplanes at the same time.
On a lighter note, Howard and Ann Hendricks will hand out the individual photos of each of the 6th graders here that were taken and printed over the last few days. The biographies from the 6th graders at 7 Hills School have been presented to the local 6th grade class and they have prepared some responses and questions for the 7 Hills students which will be delivered upon the teams’ return to Nevada County.
Finally I wanted to recognize my wife Karen Leighty, who has been my instrument organizer and scrub assistant for each patient. In lapses between or after patient care, she has been working with Howard and Ann assembling some gift bags that are to be distributed to the students and teachers at Ewasse. Karen also gathered, packed and transported hundreds of blue surgical towels to our clinic which have been very useful in the dental clinic and were the number one requested item that we were made aware of during our pre-trip needs assessment. She is a great volunteer who doesn’t hesitate to jump in and give a helping hand from everything to organizing patient flow to picking up garbage on the school grounds. She gets the award for the worst sunburn of the group; you’ll have to ask her about the details.
At our nightly briefing, we were told to expect a long work day on Wednesday, as it will likely be the last day of patient care. Thursday will be primarily a breakdown and pack day, and we’ve been told to expect a farewell celebration feast from the community. Friday the 21st of October we will be leaving our guesthouse about 3:30 am headed to Hoskins, where the 16 of us and our luggage and equipment need to make a 7:10 am flight towards Port Moresby where the group splits up for a few days of R&R or the return trip home.
That’s all, folks!