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Diaries of our Vanuatu Trip

T-1: The team’s journey has begun!

Everyone is excited to embark on the missionary trip to Vanuatu where they will be assisting in building the extension of the Medical Santo clinic and providing training to local clinical teams.

The team will be spending the night in Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, before taking an early flight tomorrow morning to Luganville on the north island of Santo.

This mission is a great opportunity for the team to not only give back to those in need but also to build camaraderie and strengthen team relationships. The team is prepared to work hard and use their skills to contribute to the construction project, as well as lend a helping hand within the clinic and local community in any way they can. The team recognises the importance of this mission and is grateful for the opportunity to make a positive impact in the lives of those they will be serving.

Day 1: We are in Vanuatu

The team made it safely to Luganville, Vanuatu, and spent the weekend immersing themselves in the local culture, building relationships with locals, and exploring the beautiful island of Santo.

Whilst the temperature hovers around 30 degrees during the day, the 90% humidity makes it feel like it is easily 40 degrees, so the local beaches and waterholes have been a reprieve for the team in cooling down!

Sarah, Lily and Grace have been tasked with pulling together all the team supplies and food for the week ahead. They will be navigating the local markets and convenience stores which will be an experience in itself due to the difference in language, currency, and stock. Sarah is having to drive them down into town to do this in a little truck and is doing so well at managing the manual vehicle whilst driving on the opposite side of unknown roads!

Today the work has begun onsite and the construction team are already in motion, meeting with the local workers and seeing first-hand where the building program is up to. Fraser has been a great asset in providing his site management experience and organising the tight schedule with the team and materials available.

The focus for today (Monday) will be to unload the container of materials that had been previously shipped over and prepare the beams that will be used within the sub floor of the building. The local workers are currently finishing off the blockwork around the perimeter of the building and will then start on core filling with concrete.

Molly and Osh from MyLocalDoc have already integrated themselves into the Medical Santo clinic and are enjoying the opportunity to see how the medical service operates and interacts with the local community.

Day 2: Lest We Forget

Simon was able to spend time yesterday teaching some of the ladies how to lay blockwork on a separate building block that will house the clinic’s solar system. It didn’t take them long to get going so we expect to be able to show their completed work in the coming days!

The guys have also experienced great progress onsite, getting through a third of the subfloor for the clinic extension. They have had to be resourceful when it comes to levels, heights, equipment and materials, utilising the existing tools that were already there or what they were able to fit into their limited luggage allowance.

The team were definitely tuckered out after a full (very hot) day onsite. They were able to head home for cold showers and then catch a lift into town for dinner before crashing into their beds for an early night.

The team were privileged to be a part of a small group who met at dawn this morning for a service to commemorate Anzac Day. With individuals who have come to Luganville from different regions of Australia and for varying reasons, it was a special occasion to stop and reflect together. Definitely one that the team will remember!

Day 4: MyLocalDoc in Medical Santo - from Osh’s POV

Hi everyone, Osh here from MyLocalDoc Rocklea!

"It has been amazing to get involved in the clinical services within Medical Santo and meet so many of the local people as they come in requiring health and medical intervention for various conditions.

David, a Ni-Vanuatu patient, was one of these who presented to the clinic with back pain and high blood pressure. Likewise, Alice, who is a 60 year old Ni-Vanuatu patient, also came into the clinic for blood pressure concerns. Despite the language barrier, the medical team were able to collaborate with Alice and David and identify their needs, allowing them to provide the appropriate treatment and care to prevent the issues digressing into more serious concerns. David mentioned to me that he has been coming to the clinic now since 2019 and whilst he only visits a few times every year, he can count on receiving care and compassion from the staff within the clinic.

Numerous other patients have also told me that the Medical Santo clinic has been a saving grace for them, as receiving medical treatment and advice had been a lot harder for them to access before the organisation and its volunteers came to Luganville. The quality staff and clinical service provided to the community are invaluable, and with additional support from companies like ours, the facilities and resources are also continuing to expand and develop which will allow greater impact in the local community.

Lastly, I have seen and dressed a lot of wounds! The resilience and thankfulness I have witnessed from the patients while treating them has had a significant impact on me, seeing that although these individuals have very little and experience many challenges they continue to remain positive and are very grateful for the care they receive.

I have learnt a lot of skills (not just in a clinical sense) from the nurses and assistant nurses here at Medical Santo and look forward to sharing more of the detail with you all when we are back next week!

The rest of the team members have continued to achieve progress onsite, with all of the subfloor now completed in the clinic extension and the timber frame and roof insulation installed on the solar house shed. While the work itself hasn’t been too difficult, the environment of doing it in direct sunlight, heat and high humidity, has been a significant challenge for them. They remain incredibly dedicated however and have really pushed through to see the tasks completed. They only have 3 days left in Luganville, so we are rallying behind them to get as much done as possible!"

Day 5: Nearing the END

The team are facing their final days with Medical Santo in Luganville, Vanuatu.

With their sights firmly set on getting the roof on the clinic extension building, the team are powering ahead to try to get it done in time before they leave on Sunday.

They had decided as a team to forego their rest day tomorrow so that they could achieve their goal, which meant the plan for today was to have all hands on deck to get the trusses installed and prepped for sheeting.

And they did it!

Simon, Fraser, Josh and Silas, along with help from the ladies, put in a mammoth effort to see the structure secured in place by this afternoon.

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