These past two weeks have been really special for the Introduction to Primary Health School. We’ve gotten to be a part of a two week seminar called “Simple Health” developed by our friends down at YWAM Perth, who flew all the way out to Alotau to share their expertise with us. Simple Health was developed to communicate a variety of health care topics and teach them in such a simple way, using only a poster. That then whomever you teach can understand the topic so thoroughly that they’d then be able to replicate the teaching and spread
it even further. The aim is to get people talking about these things that matter and to get everyone on the same page. Also not to have the education just stop and start with us – but to empower the people of PNG to take the initiative and take their health education into their own hands, spreading the knowledge further than we ever could.
So for these past two weeks it hasn’t been just YWAM taking the seminar, but we’ve had about 15 local friends from right here in Alotau joining us, because they believe their communities can be better and they wanted to do something about it. It’s been so fun getting to learn along side them and be energised by their excitement at how relevant the topics we’ve covered were to them and their communities.
A normal day in the seminar consisted of lectures in the morning, to learn a new topic. Then we would switch roles and the students would become the teachers – giving us a chance to try our hand at teaching the topic we had just learned. The best way to start learning is to throw yourself into it. So in the afternoons we would break up into small teams and hit the streets to practice teaching. At first I was a little timid at the thought of teaching strangers on the side of the road.. But thankfully I was paired with a lovely local friend named Hilda who was fearless when it came to approaching people
to ask if they wanted to learn. And their responses were amazing! Nearly everyone we taught was keen to learn and most even said they learned something new!
For example, I was teaching a group of men in their twenties about malaria, and when I asked if they knew how you got malaria, they shrugged their shoulders and said “ from drinking dirty water?” And that’s when I had my own little ‘light bulb’ moment, as I realised common knowledge, isn’t always so common. And it’s unfair of us to just assume people are experts in these basic topics. Which made this seminar so alive and real and exciting to me! Once those same young men understood that malaria is only transmitted from mosquitoes, they had so many questions and really wanted to understand. It was really amazing to see them grab hold of this, and I was encouraged at what an empowering tool education can be.
Another afternoon I was teaching a woman about the treatment and prevention of Anemia. She ended up telling me later that she was a care taker in the HIV ward at the hospital. She was very excited and was asking lots of questions about the nutrition side of the teaching. She later told me that even though she was a health care professional she had never been taught that certain foods were rich in iron and could prevent Anemia. That in her training, they focused only on the medication side of treating symptoms and not as much on the nutrition side. She took down notes and said she would go to her ward and teach the rest of her co-workers and patients.
In just 2 short weeks, as a team we taught over 650 people on 7 different topics. I am so thankful to have gotten to be a part of this seminar, and I’m excited to continue teaching and bringing awareness.
Haeley is originally from Seattle, Washington and has traveled the globe in Missions in the last number of years. She is currently serving as School Staff for the IPHC and leading a team through Papua New Guinea onboard Medical Ship in Milne Bay!