Akhamb Island

by Andrew Latimer

Its been a big day. Our team is sitting around the dinner table chatting about the day’s activities after partaking in one of those Denis master pieces that is our normal fare. With the full team on board now we seem to be settling into various roles. Tonight for instance Denis was assisted by Isabelle and Helena  in an impromptu gesture of lightening the load.
Today being a Sunday, complicated plans a little as it is normally a day of rest. However, we are a day late in the program and we wanted to get started. It was agreed with the Pastor that we could start after church at around 11:30am.
Gary, Morinda and Helen went ashore early to go to church. Helena, Dave and Denis walked through the village to the church to get orientated for our later logistical efforts . Gary was singled out and taken to a seat of honour and sat through 2 hours of service and singing. At the end of the service our three team members shook hands with everyone.
Meanwhile, we got the bulka bags to shore and with the help of some strong young lads ported all the materials and equipment to the church verandah where the clinic was to be held.
This was our first clinic so there was a lot a time taken working out what we had with us and how to set up. Before we had set up properly a man drummed the official village drum to tell the populous that the clinic was open.
Rhod slotted into the administrator role, taking down name, address etc. Helena and Isabelle conducted the general medical check-up.  From there a patient would go either the dentist or optometrist.
We saw a total of 90 patients. The medical cases were varied and several required referral for hospital treatment. 16 dental patients were seen which included 19 extractions. In order to keep the team in front of patients Denis took on the job of sterilizing the equipment. He has even brought work home and has the autoclave hissing away on the stove.
Our plans for the next few days have evolved and changed many times in order to manage the case load here at Akhamb Island and the logistical challenges here. At the moment we expect to remain at Akhamb Island for Monday and then sail to Milipe and have patients from outlying areas come to the clinics at these two locations.
During the afternoon we were surprised to see two yachts come to anchor near us. We saw the yachts sail past the clinic and a little later Mike and Anne from one of the yachts popped into the clinic to say hello. They have been engaged by Vanuatu to write a cruising guide of the islands and they kindly provided us with some charts and information about some of the places we will visit. A local diver is taking them to see two American war planes from 1942. The planes ran out of fuel and ditched in the channel just near the clinic site.
Several men spoke to me about global warming and showed me damage to the island. Many of the families from the island have moved across the channel to Malekula to avoid the affects of climate change.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and first clinic varsity