In 2022, Living Child received $39,952.00 to In March a team from Living Child including two midwives, Sara David and Carol Allan, travelled to the remote villages of Yamen and Bunam to conduct some training for the Village Birth Attendants and begin the Birthing Hut project, sponsored by 100 Women. It was 3 years since Carol and Sara were last in PNG due to the International travel bans during the Covid pandemic. At the start of the outreach, they met with the executive leaders from the East Sepik Provincial Health Authority who gave them a warm welcome. It was heartbreaking to hear stories about what it was like during the covid outbreak and find out who had died because of the disease. Health services were severely impacted by the emergency response with very little formal health outreaches done by the government relating to family planning or women’s health in the rural areas.
Following several delays due to transportation, Sara, Carol and the team were finally on their way to the remote villages, along a dirt road for 4hrs and then five hours in a boat to Yamen and a further 5 hours to Bunam, where they experienced a heartfelt welcome from the local people. 19 Village Birth Attendants from surrounding villages came for training where they learned how to work with the people to problem solve issues related to issues for women in the community (using a decision tree model), learned about danger signs in pregnancy, after birth and in the newborn, how to use a clean birth kit for birthing a baby, and how to conduct an abdominal assessment to determine the position of the baby so that they can warn women of the importance of giving birth at a health facility if there were twins or the baby is in an unfavourable position for birth.
Several times the Village Birth Attendants approached Sara and asked if it was possible for Living Child to help them provide a birthing hut for the women to safely give birth in. The team were delighted to be able to share with the VBAs the news that Living Child had received some funding from 100 women to be able to build five huts, fully equipped with essential supplies to assist them. Sara sat down with some of the local women to create a concept drawing of the hut and then this was used by some male LC team members to discuss with the village men and leaders who were learning some building techniques, such as how to lay a concrete foundation. The first two birthing huts are to be built this year, in Yamen and Paniten villages. The location for the hut in Yamen was marked out by the men after consultation with the VBAs and it will be next to the First Aid post by the river. The community has agreed to create the walls and roofing out of local bush materials and LC will supply the concrete, some guttering, a rainwater tank and other supplies for the hut to be self-contained and secure.
On the team’s trip home to Perth, they received news from Rotary that the solar suitcases on order had arrived safely in Port Moresby. These will now be shipped to Wewak and then the remote area for installation in the Birthing Huts – a robust source of light and power for the VBAs who are providing a life-saving service to their childbearing women.
Plans are being made for a LC team to visit again in August to check on progress of the building projects and to provide some further training to the VBAs.