Volunteers help Gulf leper recover

Normal, Papua

The National – Monday, January 31, 2011

A MAN from Gulf who suffered from lepromatis leprosy and was bedridden for three years is slowly recovering and regaining strength after being assisted by two women who have dedicated their time to caring for the terminally ill.
The man, who is in his late twenties and hails from the Ihu district, was discovered by Naki Sam and Susan Gada who are trained volunteers in community home-based care (CHBC) and were involved in the Lukautim Hauslain Project (LHP) run by the Sirus Naraqi Foundation (SNF).
His health deteriorated over the last three years; his eyes turned red and were swollen including his face, patches grew on his skin. The man also had body aches and was losing hair.
His family believed all this time that sorcery had caused the illness and did not bring him to a health facility for medical assistance until he was discovered by Sam and Gada two weeks ago at his home in Erima.
At the first visit, they took down his personal details and advised him and his family that they would help him access medical assistance.
On their second visit, he was given medication and was referred to the 6-Mile clinic for medical examination and diagnosis.
Last week, for the first time in three years, Sam and Gada brought him to the clinic where he was examined and referred to the Port Moresby General Hospital to see a dermatologist.
The two were emotional when describing the joy they felt when seeing people they helped getting back to good health.
“We have seen a lot of very sick people who are left to die,” Sam said, in between sobs.
“Our biggest joy is seeing them back on their feet.
“We are working very closely with the staff here at the 6-Mile clinic and they are very helpful,” she said.
Gada, whose husband had died from cancer ,said through her experience, she had put her hand up to help people who were very ill.
“When I see sick people I just want to help them,” she said.
LHP/CHBC project coordinator Patrician Moripi said that these women continued working, providing care and treatment to those suffering even if they were not paid their allowances.
Health extension officer at the clinic Fred Awa described the two women who helped (volunteers) as life savers.
He said, as health workers, they did not have the time to go out into the communities and what the volunteers were doing was very helpful in reaching out those who were at most need of help.