Dorah’s long struggle for mental health care services recognition


A SPECIALISED Mental Healthcare worker shed tears as she told the story of the hardships that she faced throughout her journey in providing services.
Sister Dorah Riyong is a mother of five from Eastern Highlands and is married to Pastor Henry Riyong from Chimbu.
Dorah said sometimes she was forced to conduct services in her home as she juggled her duties as a mother as well.
Dorah commenced studies at the Madang Nursing College at the age of 16 where she spent three and a half years.
As a young and energetic nursing graduate, she began her career in confronting the increased need in mental health care in 1990 in the Kujip Hospital in Mount Hagen.
“I worked there for one year and then moved to Mount Hagen General Hospital,” she said.
While working in Mt Hagen, Dorah decided to apply to the School of Medicine and Health Sciences in the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) to study mental health.
She then left her job and family in 2001 to Port Moresby for her education.
A few months into her study, she received upsetting news that the hospital could not continue paying her school fees.
“I was upset and depressed …,” she said.
Dorah was at the verge of giving up and returning home to her job and her family.
To her surprise, a member of the Health Department approached her and asked the most relieving question.
“I was attending a fellowship where the third signatory of the department asked how I was doing,” Dorah said.
The conversation led into a big blessing for Dorah where all her fees were settled and she was now ready to resume studies.
After a year of successful Mental Health Training, Dorah returned to Mt Hagen eager to pursue the profession.
“I returned to Mt Hagen and was willing to practise mental health care services and nothing else,” she said.
The hospital then set up an office space for Dorah to provide daily consultations.
In 2007, Dorah and her husband moved back to Eastern Highlands where Dorah joined the Goroka General Hospital.
After spending three years there, Dorah realised she needed to do more in her job, so she set out to again to attain additional Community Mental Health Care Training at UPNG.
She graduated with a Bachelor in Nursing in 2011.
“With my degree, the road to success was now made even clearer,” Dorah said.
Dorah later found out about a rehabilitation programme through Kalan Health Services for Community and initiated a programme.
Dorah was now initiating a platform that provided mental healthcare services within communities in Goroka.
“I could not do this alone, so I called in my good brothers of a non-governmental Organisation called Christian Brothers,” she said.
Dorah has been successfully conducting consultations and treatment at the communities for 12 years now.
She attended the recent mental health conference in Port Moresby and said she was proud to have such a platform provided by the newly proclaimed Directorate For Social Change And Mental Health Services.
“I remain grateful and motivated by senior experts in the industry taking lead to change for the better.
“I have seen the work of many hard-working mental health sthe advances of the services to a higher level,” she added.
Dorah, with the help of Christian Brothers and her team of volunteers, now attend to communities on scheduled days during the week.
However, many of the cases are dealt with in her family home which remains a big challenge to her.
“Taking on such responsibility is tough but I love the Lord and if this is what I must do to serve His people, then I will do it,” Dorah said.
Dorah continues to serve the people of Eastern Highlands as she looks forward to more recognition by the directorate.