Monday 5 August 2013

Akhamb Island

by Andrew Latimer

When we arrived at Akhamb Island we were a day late. As a result we worked on a Sunday and managed to see 90 patients. We couldn’t see everybody who came in the day light available so we decided to remain another day and send a message to outlying villages to come to Akhamb Island rather us go to them. This worked out well and we finished work at 1pm.

With the clinic running well I came back to the yacht and Martin, Dave and I pottered about doing jobs around the boat. Anne and Eric Simmons from the yacht refection head to shore in their dinghy so I hailed them over. They were heading off to pick a local diver, Nicki Tom. Tom and been very hospitable to me the day before and had invited me to go for a walk to see the whole village. As we walked he talked about global warming and other things of concern to his village. The village used to have a population of 500 but it is now around 250. Gradually villagers are moving across to the main land to live on higher ground. But Tom explained that living conditions were not as good on the main land because of heavy rain and mosquitoes.
Tom said the yachties who had just arrived were interested in under water wreaks and asked Tom if he know of any. Tom said there were 2 American plans in the area. They date back to 1942 and had run out of fuel and landed on the water and skimmed the planes right up to the beach. The airmen were able to step out of the planes and the villages took care of them until a rescue team arrived a day later. The rescue crew pushed the planes back into the water and sank them.
Tom free dives and l asked him what equipment he uses and lamented that he has none because “it all broken.”  That gave me a thought. Before leaving Port Vila another yachtie had approached Rob and given him a bag of flippers and goggles to give to locals who had a need and who made their living in the water. I thought Tom would be just the person they had in mind. So the next day, that is this morning, I waved to Eric and when he brought the dinghy alongside I suggested he might like to bring Tom back to select something suitable from the bag. A short while later Tom came back with Eric and tried on half a dozen flippers and he selected a pair and took a pair of goggles. We couldn’t tell at the time if Tom liked the new kit but after the dive he came back specially to say it was wonderful.  So thank you to the yachtie in Port Vila!
At lunch time I went ashore with a big lunch made by David and found the clinic had thinned down and we would most like be finished early. Isabelle made a point of introducing me to a lovely young girl, Ocklyn Jack, who had been helping them all day. She spoke good English was able to translate for the patients with accuracy and compassion. She had finished school but couldn’t go further but wanted to do nursing. I spoke to the Pastor who had been our host and he said there might some options for Ocklyn and we hope something will come of it.
We packed up quickly and a group of young men helped carry everything to the water’s edge. By 2:30pm we were underway closely following the coast. There some sufficient wind to help us along and the seas were slight.
We arrived at Milipe at 4:30pm. Martin, Morinda and Helen and I went ashore to see if we were expected for a clinic on Tuesday. We were met by a group on the beach who lined up to shake hands. We explained our program and that we would be at Carolyn Bay tomorrow. They also said they would get a message to Malvakhal and Tomman.
While dinner was being cooked the medical team went through all the record cards and prepared the statistics and referral ists. They also sent a plea to Richard to see if several medications could be flown to Wintua.
We have just had a feast (as per the published menu) with the addition of lemon and lime delicious pudding!  Bob Dylan is playing in the main saloon. Helen and Morinda are asleep in the forward cabin and everyone else are enjoying a cuppa.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and Catching Up

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