Friday, 7 August 2009, (Pt Vila)

It took more than rain, cold winds and unusually low temperatures to dampen the spirits of the intrepid band of Aussie travellers who went snorkelling at Hideaway Island. The noise of chattering teeth almost drowned out the sound of the outboard motor, as the small boat took us out further to see even more fish and coral at the island-edge dropoff.  There were lots of “Nemos”, although “Dory” was noticeably absent, and mercifully “Bruce” and his shark mates were also away all day.

As tourist fun continues, the work of the Vanuatu Prevention of Blindness Project (VPOB) continues.  Graeme Duke, our immediate past crew member and volunteer doctor, has jotted down a few of the tasks which continue and which readers might like to think and pray about.

Graeme Duke …
The Chimere crew will be lapping up some R&R in Pt Vila over the next week or so, and celebrating a certain person’s significant birthday –  it’s one of those numbers that ends in a big zero but we wont mention the first figure!

Even though it might sound like the hard work of this VPOB tour is over there is still much work to be done.  Don Macraild has been working hard and has had several meetings and other tasks in Pt Vila this week. Various other team members are providing some assistance where possible.

These include, in no particular order:

  • Reporting back to the Health Department on our progress and results
  • Reporting and making recommendations on the needs of the people of Vanuatu we met
  • Arranging for medical and pharmaceutical supply lines to be renewed or reopened, especially to the remote village and aid-posts that are under-resourced. We found most were poorly supplied and supported.
  • Planning the referrlas, letters, visas and other paperwork for a little girl (Lerica) to go to Brisbane for cardiac surgery [see update on Lerica’s surgery here – admin]
  • Writing letters of referral for specialist needs
  • Arranging the referral and transport of eye surgery patients to Santo for their operations at the end of this month
  • Collating our raw data and writing reports
  • Sending reports back to village nurse practitioners and aid-post workers
  • Ann Millar and I have been developing some simple guidelines to assist the nurse practitioners and aid-post workers manage patients with hypertension or diabetes.
  • Tracking down the ear specialist team in Melbourne who will be go to Vanuatu each year. (As it turns out one of my work colleagues has worked with them and knew straight away whom I should speak to!)
  • Debriefing of medical and sailing crews
  • Development and simplification our electronic database, and hopefully) get the data from Teams 1 and 2 entered electronically.
  • Future planning and utilisation of AusAid grant

In addition to the above, we have a meeting with the Presbyterian Church on Monday, here in Vila, about the possibility of establishing a dental program, along the lines of the Eyecare Project.  Kim Warby, a dentist from Sydney, has come across as part of the happy band of family and friends, all staying at the Melanesian, and he will assess the facilities already installed (but not in use) and the best way to build a service from the ground up.

Smooth sea, fair breeze and the work is not yet over.

Rob