As the Pacific Partnership 2011 medical team begins work on the remote island nation of Vanuatu, HOPE volunteer Jo Anne Bennett is filled with anticipation. Bennett has worked in Vanuatu before, as part of the World Health Organization. “It is great to be back,” she says.
On her first day providing care as a Project HOPE volunteer, Bennett traveled to the local college to teach a class of about 50 students on how to prevent the spread of various diseases, like malaria, which is a serious medical issue in the remote areas of Vanuatu.
When Bennett completes her rotation with Project HOPE, she plans to remain in Vanuatu for a while, to continue to provide medical care and education.
Volunteers Maureen Kisicki and Aislinn Mangan helped setup the medical site at the Northern District Hospital and get the patient flow moving.
In addition to getting the site prepared for patients, the team worked together with the local doctors and medical professionals, learning from each other so that the entire team can better serve the medical needs of the people of Vanuatu.
“At each place we visit, the culture and language are different, but the people are really warm and welcoming here, just as the people in Tonga were,” Kisicki says. “The medical care needed is also a bit different. There seem to be less skin rashes and more unique medical cases that you would not see normally in the states.”
Before the mission began, HOPE volunteers Bridget Binko and Dr. Alan Jamison attended the opening ceremonies in Vanuatu which included some tribal traditions to offer good luck to the crew and the medical work that they would be providing.
“I was sitting with one of the chiefs, who was wearing his native gown. It was an enjoyable experience being able to eat with them,” said Dr. Jamison.
After the opening ceremony, Dr. Jamison accompanied the Pacific Partnership 2011 Commodore Capt. Jesse A. Wilson to the New Zealand ship, HMNZS Canterbury, where later, a surgery was performed by the Royal New Zealand Medical corps to drain a young boy’s hand in order to save it.
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