Thursday 8 August 2013

We planned an early start to the clinic today as the advance team who went ashore last night found that everything was well organized and that a large number of people were expected. So we were up by 6am and ready to leave at 7:15am for an 8am start. We were on the beach by 7:30am and the helpers we had organized last night were nowhere to be seen. After finding some strong young men we carried all the medical equipment from the beach, up a steep track cut into a cliff then along the grassy track running along the top of the cliff to the clinic.
The clinic, which we had visited in 2010, looked so much better. A new roof had been put on the two buildings complete with new guttering and water tanks and a fresh coat of paint applied to the walls. The clinic is run by nurse Colin (who was away), nurse Marie and nurse Janson. I recognized Janson from our last trip (all though I spelt his name differently then). He was the nurse who asked us to transport sterile water to Lawa a few miles up the coast and he came to navigate us around the reefs.
The clinic was set up quickly with Martin adopting a new role helping the dentist.
Earlier in the week when we had some phone reception we asked Richard to send more medicines by plane to Wintua. The plane was due today so I left the clinic and walked to the airport. The airport has been completely redeveloped since our last trip and now supports a twice a week service by small plane.
Also making their way to the airport were 3 potters from Melbourne who had been working with local potters, Val Taylor (who is 85yo) and her daughters Wendy and Jenny who were missionaries from 1957 to 1966. They were responsible for building the school, hospital and airstrip at Wintua. They had been in the village for a week catching up with old friends. There were also 2 couples who were traveling around Vanuatu.
The airport now has an official airport building which was very small and cute but a micro version of the real thing. It has a ticket office with window, a baggage area and waiting area. Someone had got a lawn mower out and mowed some strips through the thick tropical grass so we could walk to the building.
From the airport we could look back to the village and see the church where the wedding was held last time and the small guest house next door.
Eventually the plane could be seen under the clouds making a sweep over Chimere to line up the run way. The plane dropped down to our level and roared past as it landed, turning at the far end of the runway where it turned and came back to the ‘terminal’. For a small plane it seemed to take a long time to get people and luggage off and on again. It was resorted several times to get the balance right. Eventually everything was in its right place and the plane left us, leaving behind a box of medicine.
Meanwhile back in the clinic the dentist, Gary, was in full swing. To keep his momentum up he was supported by Rhod (on admin), Denis (sterilization), Martin (apprentice dental assistant), Morinda (dental nurse) and Janson (nurse). That impressive team enabled the dentist to set a new record. He saw 35 patients and did 90 extractions. Gary and the team are now back on the yacht resting up while dinner is being prepared.
Dinner is a collective effort tonight. Isabelle is beside me at the dining table preparing and enormous exotic papaya salad with Thai lime dressing. Helena is in the galley making a Chorizo lentel and prawn salad (without the prawn) although Helena is weighing up adding her Bonito, freshly caught yesterday and now residing in the fridge. Jockeying for galley space is Denis who is making a lamb casserole.
We are now about start some serious dining so it is time to close the log of today.

by Andrew Latimer

Smooth seas, fair breeze and Dental Team Sets new Tour Record

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