Hand in hand they walked down the corridor of the Daru hospital. An eye patch covered the lovely face of Lady Namaliu, wife of Former Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea (PNG), Sir Rabbie Namaliu. The PNG patron of YWAM Medical Ships Australia (YWAM MSA) and his wife had emerged from the operating theatre, where the cataract surgery had taken place.
In a nation with very limited access to health care, even influential government officials are limited to specialist services.
It was an honour for the YWAM Medical Ship and volunteers to provide this much needed surgery to Lady Namaliu. The visit began with a consult with Dr. Keith Maslin, a returning volunteer surgeon, making sure the best options are weighed and decided upon. While she stated that she was a bit nervous at first, Lady Namaliu graciously smiled and discussed with her husband.
The next day, surgery day, she had bravely overcome her nerves and was anticipating seeing well again. Sir Rabbie never left her side, as they waited for the procedure.
Dr. Keith’s skilled hands worked quickly and effectively to remove the cataract and placed a new lens in her eye.
During the Namaliu’s final day in Daru, Lady Namaliu’s eye patch was removed, and her vision returned. It was a privilege for the team to be a part of this special moment.
She later commented, “Whilst I consider myself lucky for the surgery, my heart still breaks for the many others who are struggling out there in the villages of PNG. That’s the challenge…thank you for the work YWAM is doing.”
Sir Rabbie and Lady Namaliu took time in the midst of their busy schedule to get to know the crew and volunteers, making everyone around them feel special and important. It was an experience that continues to show the deep and special bonds Australia shares with PNG.