Bridging Companies and Communities in Papua New Guinea

Day 1 notes from the field.

Its 6:30am here at Port Moresby harbour in Papua New Guinea. After almost 48 hours of preparations on-board the M/V Pacific Link, we are ready to head off to the Gulf Province.

The sense of excitement is palpable — bridge crew are in the wheel-room, gangway has been hoisted up, horn’s been blown and we’ll soon be setting off to the west.

Captain Wayne Burke and First Mate John McDonnell doing final check-ups as we prepare to leave the wharf at Port Moresby.

After 4 months of planning we’re all go. This project for InterOil — a PNG-based energy company — is aims to bring greater medical access to remote areas of the country feels. It will raise awareness and funds for YWAM Medical Ship’s (YWAM) Overcoming The Impossible campaign to purchase a new medical ship.

YWAM is an international charity which brings medical access to remote communities in various parts of the world. The Australian arm of the organisation is based out of Townsville, which happens to be closer to Port Moresby than to its state capital, Brisbane. Australia and PNG share deep historical and cultural connections. YWAM has a clear strategy of working with the PNG government to empower local communities.

We have on-board a team of 50 volunteers from 12 countries including doctors, dentists, nurses, ship crew and general volunteers including a couple of employees from InterOil and their partner bank, Westpac.

Engineer Josaia taking a break at his favourite spot next to the hatch.

The last couple of days have given us a taste of what the trip will be like. We’ve had a chance to meet most of the ship crew as well as the volunteers — some are veterans returning back for their 3rd tour while some others rookies on their very first sea voyage. The local Papua New Guineans on-board are full of character — Swickley, therascol-turned former policeman and Josaia — the photogenic engineer. We’ve also had couple of very inspiring interviews with some of the YWAM Medical Ship staff and doctors.

“Our goal in YWAM Medical Ships is to eventually work ourselves out of our jobs and empower the local health infrastructure in PNG.” — Dr. Sarah Dunn

Dr. Sarah Dunn from New Zealand is very passionate in her love for the people of the Pacific.

“As a kid growing up in the Gulf Province I used to travel on a small boat between my village and the boarding school in a nearby town. I started my career as a medical officer because I almost died of tuberculosis when I was 13 years old. I was saved by a timely intervention by a medical officer. Through this trip I am now reliving my childhood, giving back to the community and helping to save lives.”

— Anthony Ipai, InterOil employee and volunteer on-board the medical ship

Anthony Ipai, one of the local PNG volunteers.

After 2 hours of sailing, we’ll cross the reefs and head out into the open ocean. I’ve never been on small ship in the oceans and so have been getting various tips and tricks to combat sea-sickness — “sleep it off”, “sleep on the left side”, “don’t drink too much water” etc. I have a feeling I might not feel any sea-sickness at all and actually enjoy all the tumbles. Fingers-crossed!

Looking forward to the next few days and the inspiring community and adventure stories that will no doubt come with it!

More details on the Overcoming The Impossible campaign:https://www.facebook.com/ywamshipsaustralia

Setting off on Saturday 26 July from Port Moresby just as the sun began to rise up the horizon.

Story by Ashwin Subramaniam — Co-Founder & Projects Director, Gone Adventurin’

Photo Credit — Mathew Lynn

Ashwin Subramaniam

Firmly believe that companies can unlock great business opportunities in tackling social and environmental challenges in their communities. Check out our story at www.goneadventurin.com or if you'd like to get in touch for a coffee or chat, email me at ashwin@goneadventurin.com. We'd love to hear your story.

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