“Where there is a need, send me”
This was Sister Baida Sika’s prayer when she completed her nursing training over 20 years ago. Her desire was to serve in the most remote areas of her nation that needed both her skill and caring heart.
In 2014, the call for help came from Catholic Health Services.
“My boss meri said, “Sister, there is a need, I want to transfer you to Bamio, do you want to go?” And I said, yes – I had asked the Lord where there is a need, send me, that is the reason I am here,” said Sister Baida.
Bamio is a village of approximately 400 people, perched on a creek bank off the Bamu River, Western Province. It is only accessible via boat or helicopter.
Sister Baida recalls her first visit to Bamio with emotion. “When I first came, I stopped at the waterfront and the local people washed the mud off my legs. I told them that I wasn’t very special, and to not wash my legs – but they said ‘no, we will wash them.’ I had tears in eyes, I was crying.”
Today, Sister Baida is the Sister-in-Charge at Bamio Aid Post, run by Catholic Health Services. Sister Baida has been serving faithfully for the past five years out of an aid post that was built by the local community out of bush materials.
When Bamio Community Leader, Mr Rene Gamae, is asked about Sister Baida’s service in their community, a smile emerges on his face as he expresses the community’s affection for her.
“Sister Baida is a great mother, she is a very hard worker. The community takes care of her by giving food and bringing her water. Whatever we have in the community, people give,” said Mr Gamae.
Sister Baida shares that after five years in the region, she feels maternal outcomes are gradually improving. Further, Sister Baida emphasises the importance of Bamio Aid Post’s ‘Bel Mama clinic’.
“The very important thing is I have been giving advice and safe delivery at the clinic, rather than at the village. It is very important to have safe delivery, under supervision. If any complications come, it is easier for me to transfer them to the nearest health services’, she says.
In collaboration with Western Provincial Health and Middle Fly District Health Services, YWAM Medical Ships – Australia & Papua New Guinea (YWAM MS) has been working alongside Sister Baida since 2012. Their support of Bamio Aid Post has included the delivery of drug supplies, assistance with maintenance and upgrades of equipment, in-service training, and collaborative patrols – working together to deliver primary health care, dental care, eye care, diagnostic services, and health education to the region.
“I feel happy when they come. When I run out of supplies and request for help, they do their best to get it to me. They have given me support with things I need in my Aid Post.”
“For two years I used a torch light to help the mothers and the sick people, and then in 2016 the YWAM boat came and installed solar lights for me. It’s now easier for me to help the patients and look after them with this light,” said Sister Baida.
The value of Sister Baida’s service is highlighted when a couple bring their thriving baby to the clinic for a health check. Clearly delighted with their baby, the couple share their deep appreciation for Sister Baida’s ongoing support through pregnancy, birth, and early months. They emphasise that with Sister Baida’s encouragement and skill, they felt empowered and equipped to nurture their baby.
Sister Baida’s services are now extending to many more, the community has recently gone on to build a new and improved bush materials haus sik, which opened with much celebration in late February. The facility includes a new solar vaccine fridge, supporting her to provide immunisations for hundreds of people in Bamu Rural LLG. Sister Baida now goes on patrols to surrounding villages, setting up her mobile clinic for children requiring immunisations.
Sister Baida’s story is one of perseverance, love for her work and her community. She represents many more just like her – serving faithfully in remote areas of Papua New Guinea.