Water for Taskul Health Centre

Dr Merrilee Frankish, a volunteer doctor with Australian Doctors International, had told Betty that we were planning on helping with the tank, but we hadn’t told Betty that we were coming that day, so it was a big surprise to her and her staff. They were all so chuffed, it was very humbling to see their gratefulness.

The health centre sits on top of a hill, but before we carried the tank up, Betty showed us around. Sam and I saw the creek they use for all their water supplies, which means they wash, do their laundry and drink from the same tiny creek. Let’s not mention the dogs that also walk through and drink the water, and do who-knows-what-else. No surprise the rate of dysentery and gastro-related illnesses is so high!

The creek where the locals and patients wash in, do their laundry and drink from!

We also got a tour of the two buildings that make up the health centre – the examination rooms and offices, and the wards. As there are no water tanks and hence no running water, there are no toilets. Instead, a hole is dug somewhere in the bush where people relieve themselves. Again, the amount of diseases that can result from this is mind boggling. The bathroom (or what is left of it) is now used as storage for old wheelchairs and other stuff.

Next door is the birthing suite, equipped with a birthing bed of sorts, a sterilizer, a scale and some other medical supplies. What the room does not have is power! No lights to assist during a difficult birth at night, no fan to cool things down a bit in 30 degrees Celsius and humidity in the 90s.

Can you imagine bringing a baby into the world in this room? At least they have a sterilizing machine…

When we returned to the office after our tour, we heard that some of the guys had already gone down to the boat to get the water tank. Sam and I were just in time to take a couple of photos of the creative way of carrying the large thing up the hill.

A bunch of strong PNG boys, and the water tank is at the health centre in no time.

We left the tank with Betty and her staff to find a good spot to set it all up. This one tank will help a little, but we are hoping to repair some of the old metal water tanks and thus increasing the water supply. Hopefully, the unused bathrooms will eventually also get used again.

The tank carriers with Betty, the head nurse at Taskul, and I.

Our friend Doug from Bisi Trading gave us a good deal on the tank, plus chucked in a water filtration system free of charge, so a big thank-you to him.