Sterilisation Technician Helps Bring Sight to Papua New Guineans
Vicki Bishop, Administration Officer and former Supervisor of the Sterilisation Department at The Eye Hospital in Launceston, Tasmania has enjoyed using her sterilisation skills and expertise on board the MV YWAM PNG , YWAM Medical Ships’ Training and Medical Ship that provides health and training services to remote and rural areas of Papua New Guinea (PNG).
Vicki heard about YWAM’s ship through coworkers who had previously volunteered with the ophthalmic team on board the ship for a two-week outreach. After hearing stories and seeing photos, she and her colleague, Lyn Rouse, decided to “give it a go” themselves. During the outreach in remote Gulf Province, PNG, Vicki volunteered her time in the sterilisation area for the ophthalmic team. This team provides cataract and pterygium surgeries to those who would not normally have access to these specialist services. Over the course of the outreach, the team provided 53 cataract and 11 pterygium surgeries. Jenni*, a young woman, age 22, was one of the patients who receive cataract surgery on board the ship for a traumatic cataract. Vicki spent some time with Jenni and her mother, Betty*, and was touched by how attentively Betty cared for Jenni. Vicki thought it was important for Betty to receive some care herself, and so she requested if Betty see the dentist while she waited. The dentist was able to extract a tooth that had been bothering Betty for some time, relieving her pain. “It just made sense that we would help both of them if we could. It really was a small way that I could make a difference.” Vicki states that she would recommend this experience to anyone with her skillset. She shared that she had plenty of opportunity to use her sterilisation and instrument processing skills and she also assisted to refine sterilisation processes for the team during her time on board.
The opportunity to learn more about PNG from Papua New Guinean patients and volunteers has been a highlight for her, in addition to working within a team of people from many different countries. The outreach Vicki was on had 14 nations represented, including Israel, the Netherlands, and Singapore. “I thoroughly enjoyed my time on board. Everyone has been so nice and supportive and we have had some good laughs. However, the outcome is the best part. I know that what I am doing in sterilisation is helping people regain their eyesight and that is what it is all about.” YWAM Medical Ships welcomes applications from those skilled in sterilisation and instrument processing.
If you would like to volunteer with YWAM Medical Ships, submit your application online: www.ywamships.org.au . Enquiries can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org . *names changed