Townsville Family’s PNG Health Mission
For many of us, going to the doctors is a part of life we take for granted. However, for many people across the world, access to medical care is not as easy as walking into the nearest medical centre or hospital.
YWAM Medical Ships, headquartered in Townsville, aims to provide communities in Papua New Guinea (PNG) with healthcare that they otherwise would not get. With the help of volunteers, both medical professionals and those who just want to help in any way they can, YWAM Medical Ships have seen hundreds of patients benefit from their outreach programs. One such volunteer is Lori Schierer, who tells her story below.
Growing up, I always knew I wanted to see the world, make a difference and bring hope, but I never really imagined it would turn out the way it has. I never expected to make a home in Townsville and serve the people of PNG with my whole family on the YWAM Medical Ship.
Life with kids is an adventure. Life on a ship, in PNG, with kids takes the meaning of the word to a whole new level. My husband, Jeremy, serves as Captain, I serve as the part-time purser and our children, five-year-old Monty and two-year-old Reuben, serve as offsiders to the medical staff, intrepid explorers and nephews to 100 other volunteers who live on board.
And their popularity is not limited to the ship. The boys are a source of excitement whenever we go ashore. Local children gather around, hoping for a chance to touch their white skin and the mothers try as often as they can to carry, hold or help the boys with anything!
The local’s intrigue was reciprocated by Monty when we first arrived. The differences between PNG and Townsville are vast. It was fascinating to hear what he observed and noticed, from the skin colour of the people and the practice of riding in the backs of open trucks, to the uniforms of the security guards in Port Moresby.
The ship is usually at anchor rather than alongside, as there are no wharves in the remote locations we visit. The kids think it’s great to zip up their lifejackets and jump into small boats for rides to and from the shore. Our medical and community engagement teams are usually busy during our shore visits and Monty likes to join in on the healthcare, teaching and helping hand out resources like soap and toothbrushes and toothpaste. He also enjoys collecting whatever he can! In one village, he discovered freshwater clam shells everywhere. Once the locals realised he was collecting them, they joined in the search and even provided a box for him to take them home in.
It’s such a joy watching my kids not only experience a new culture but also helping out where they can. Monty recently helped test patients’ eyes after they received cataract surgery, pointing at the shapes on an eye chart while an adult volunteer gave instructions and recorded the test results. Watching people get their eye patches off after surgery has become one of our favourite things to do. Reuben’s too young to really help out and it takes him longer to adjust to the newness of things, but I’m so thankful for what he’s learning and experiencing even at his young age.
One of the great things about being on the ship is our ability to do this as a whole family. We are each able to contribute to the purpose of the ship, even in small ways. Jeremy is able to include the kids at times in his work and we enjoy having family adventures when we can. Ship life certainly has its challenges but, for our family, it is also tremendously rewarding.
Got a story to tell?
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