Polyglot M’Bay medic a godsend


NINETY-one year-old, Naidi Geusana from Dobu and Normanby Island was a blessing to his Milne Bay people during the colonial days.
Born on June 25, 1927, he was the first in family of three.
As he says, one does not have to be well-educated to secure their dream job.
Geusana dropped out in Grade two at Yo’o Language School, Dobu Rural LLG at the age of 15 years.
That was after the World War 2 ended in Milne Bay.
However, the feeling of the recently fought battle was still fresh among the local communities.
This is Geusana’s story of how he worked as a non-commissioned medical officer during the colonial days.
He served his people from Goodenough Island, Fergusson Island and other outer islands that form the D’Entrescasteaux Group after the World War 2 ended in his beautiful Milne Bay for a period of 11 years, from 1942 to 1953.
Geusanawas sent to Salamo Rural Health Centre for treatment to his left sore leg and was later transferred to Esa’ala Rural Heath Centre for further treatment.
During his stay at Esa’ala Health Centre, he befriended the nursing officers and willingly helped them.
In the ward with other patients, he helped translate prescriptions from English to the Dobu language.
Although he did not speak English fluently, he managed to provide help as a volunteer translator as his passion began to grow and glow in the field of health.
He was taught first hand medical help by the nursing officers on how to give prescriptions to the sick, treat seriously wounded patients and even assist as a midwife to deliver babies at the rural health centre with the expert help and advice of the nursing officers.
In mid-1943, the sore on his left leg was getting well and he was packing up to go back to his home village but was kindly asked by the nursing officer to stay back and assist at the health centre as a helping hand or volunteer.
Geusana was overwhelmed by the invitation and agreed to stay back as there was no other local volunteer translator to assist and a helping hand was really needed due to the shortage of medical officers on ground at Esa’alaRural Health Centre after the war ended.
As his interest began to grow in the medical field from mid-1943 to 1945, he was later trained as a local volunteer medical nursing officer and later successfully passed the test set by the health extension officer in 1946 to become a health officer.
In October 1946, his first posting was at Mapamoiwa Rural Heath Centre located at the south-west of Fergusson Island. It was very challenging to work as a health officer with limited knowledge. But as a God-fearing person, he did his work diligently and with the help of other nursing officers at the health centre and served his people from 1946 to 1947.
In 1948, he got his second posting to an outer remote aid post located at Kilia village on Goodenough Island.
This time his work became more challenging in such an isolated environment as he was the only local medical officer serving about 20 patients a day.
Sometimes he had to walk five to seven kilometres with limited medical supplies to treat patients from nearby villages and arrive back at his aid post late in the afternoon.
Although the internal pain on his left leg was starting again due to walking distances without rest, he kept on serving his people with love.
Most of the patients that he treated travelled by traditional dugout canoes covering distances of 10 to 20 kilometres to seek medical assistance.
He dealt mostly with cases of malaria causing high fever, delivered babies and treated other minor sicknesses.
He later got his third posting to Sehuleya aid post located on Normanby Island in 1949 as a health officer and continued his work.
In 1950, he was posted further up to a newly built aid post at Kasi Kasi village located also on the north east side of Normanby Island to provide medical work and manage this new aid post.
In the same year, he was posted to Dio Dio aid post located at Goodenough Island and served there until 1951.
In 1952, he was posted back to Mapamoiwa Rural Health Centre and was later promoted to officer in-charge – health extension officer due to the good work he was doing at the outer aid posts.
In January of 1953, he left work as OIC- health extension officer and went back to his home village at Yo’o due to the worsening condition of his left leg.
The pain was getting worse and could not allow him to continue with his work.
However, he continued to provide medical advice and assistance to his people back at his home village whenever it was needed.
After a year of rest from medical duties, he was handpicked from his village in 1954 and was brought to Samarai Island by Bobby Bungtingi to work as a store keeper in his shop.
Samarai was the administrative center of Milne Bay during the colonial days.
All business activities were conducted on the island with lots of dimdims (Milne Bay’s reference to expatriates) living and working on the island.
Merchant ships brought in cargoes from Australia to trade with the locals on this island.
A lot of missionaries from the London Missionary Society were staying at Kwato Island which was 10 to 15 kilometres away from Samarai Island.
Again, Geusana left work as a store keeper in 1954 as the pain in his left leg worsened.
He went home and married a beautiful woman named Sineyoidi.
In January 1956, he went back to Esa’ala Rural Health Centre with Sineyoidi to get treatment for his sore leg as the pain was already unbearable.
He was referred to Samarai Rural Health Centre in August 1956, but could not be treated.
In September 1956, Geusana accompanied by his wife, was transferred by sea plane to Port Moresby General Hospital located at Era Beach at the time.
On Sept 16 in that same year his leg was amputated.
Two months later, he was transferred to Lae General Hospital with his wife to assemble a false left leg to help with his walking.
In 1957, he returned with his wife to Yo’o village on Normanby Island and was later appointed as the chairman of Yo’o Agriculture Project. He looked after all projects within Yo’o ward in the Dobu Rural LLG and report to the dimdim administration at Esa’ala station on the status of projects which included coconut and cocoa plantations in the villages.
In 1958, he was appointed as the paramount chief of his tribe.
He has three daughters, four sons, 41 grandchildren, 35 great-great grandchildren.
His wife Sineyoidi passed away in 1992 and was buried at Yo’o village.
Geusana was not well-educated nor did he graduate as a medical officer.
Although he was not paid that much in Australian dollars during those colonial days, he served his people wholeheartedly and learned to speak 24 different languages of Milne Bay during his time as a medical officer .
His language skills had made it easier for him to serve his people all over the D’Entrescasteaux islands.
Naidi Geusana was indeed one of a kind.

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