It takes a village to raise a child but it also takes a village to literally murder that child.

Deep down, my dreams of serving as a nurse/midwife in a third world country remained alive. It was further awakened when my father reminded me of the severe hardships the people of my land experienced in the jungles of Vanuatu. I’ve always wanted to go back and do maternity care in the jungles of Melanesia. It is definitely a calling.

Recently, I attended the International Mobilisation and Preparation for Action (IMPACT Training) in Melbourne Australia as organised by the Australian Red Cross. It was part of the New Zealand Red Cross training before being deployed overseas. It was tough, distressing and confronting at times but it was also fun and worthwhile. For someone like me who had no idea of what an International Humanitarian Mission would feel having a nursing/medical experience, it was a great insight. The drive and motivating factor for me was wanting to make a little difference to the childrens lives somewhere in the war-torn countries. It didn’t matter how hard or complicated it was going to become, I was determined to achieve that humanitarian goal.

I remembered speaking very briefly to my parents before I went off to Australia for the IMPACT training. My mother reacted fiercely to my news of starting the journey with the New Zealand Red Cross (even though I had briefed her a couple of years ago). My father listened attentively not knowing how to respond and remaining calm on the phone. My mother ran off into the darkness; almost in such a state of shock and becoming hysterical. She broke down. I heard her sobbing in the darkness from the phone. It was so hard on her. I wouldn’t want to wish that upon any village mothers. To hear of your child taking another risky angle on life is not everyone’s cup of tea. A child that you love so much and then lose to another part of the world for 17 years and then suddenly to spring that news upon you would be quite unsettling. I felt for my mother and I shared her fear of the unknown, the sudden worries and the added stress of not being able to communicate and the lack of knowledge about the geographical isolation of these countries which she has never heard of. My sister sent me the most heartbreaking message revealing the extend of the broken relationship I had with my parents if I had any. She called me a selfish sister with no heart for my parents who had their thatched-house leaking. Both my parents agreed with her. The whole village of 500 people agreed with them. It was breaking news for the villagers. It was headliners. They love this sort of news. Its the best news. Its healthy, it is refreshing and it is a testament that I have failed on a very high note. They blow everything up in proportion and somehow make up information as they go along in life. You see village life can be boring at times so any news that has a group of people talking would transmit very fast like a lightning and then become very disproportioned. If only people would understand that the village has everything. Everything. Everything a child could ask for; water, food and a roof over their head. I grew up in a village where everybody raised me. I had no brothers but two sisters. My father worked hard on the land. My mother was one of the hardest working women I knew of who worked extremely hard off the land. The village looked after me and my interests and tried to contribute as much as they could. Manual labour was often provided by my cousins who are in the village. They would help my father build the houses. But I’ve often observed that my father would work quietly alone numerous times completing projects on his own. It was life-long and hard lessons to learn. But the most unsettling news for me was hearing my sister being so angry and almost into a blame-state. She called me an incompetent person who was not smart at all with my education-something I found very hard to absorb and accept. My parents agreed with her statement. The villagers agreed with her. They agreed with my parents. It was the so-called cold and hard truth I found very threatening and confronting to be labelled that way. It was so stigmatising and very less appealing that it crushed my self-esteem. It was very damaging. It broke me in fact. They have murdered me. I don’t have their blessings at all. But I had to remain calm and accepted the cultural norm. Three weeks ago prior to Tropical Cyclone Pam hitting the Northern Islands of Vanuatu, Lumete Beach Bungalows was officially opened for business by the Malampa Provinicial Council. This has been the most important project that I had spent more than half a million Vanuatu money on. It has been a legacy project that my parents and I have worked on for more than 10 years in the making.

I remembered from the IMPACT training that often the causes of stress is caused by the preparations prior to a mission. It will have to be that way until I go home to explain my humanitarian mission on an international scale. Everyone would understand better that way. Yes, the strongest hearts have the most scars as I keep reminding myself!

Going on a humanitarian mission was self gratification. It is a special interest. It is a goal. It is one of life’s satisfaction. I wanted to save a life. I wanted to help alleviate the human suffering. I wanted to maintain and contribute to human dignity in any form possible from the conflict displacement. Despite the added stress of negativity and outbursts of angry, I am forever grateful to the International Community who have stood by me and given me their support. It had truly meant a lot. It felt very truly special. 

I felt a renewed sense of hope from the intense preparation in Australia. I have never felt so ready to go out and touch a child’s life somewhere in South Sudan. I am ready for that new chapter. 


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