At the end of April this year I had an email from Beth to say that their ‘dinghy had died’. It had been repaired many times but had been working so hard that the motor ‘gave up the ghost’. Without it all of the TB outreach work came to a complete standstill as, living in the delta, without a boat she and her team could not get to any of the villages to do TB clinics/ follow ups/ awareness or to bring patients to hospital for treatment. Kikori has one of the highest TB rates in the world, and 70% of the 100 hospital beds were filled with TB patients. Hence the importance of the outreach clinics to try and stem the spread of TB in the area.
Beth Lewis is a very self-effacing young lady, but deeply committed to her work with the locals. The demise of their dinghy came as a cruel blow to her, her team and the work they all do.
So, one of Beth’s friends set up a ‘crowd funding’ page to raise the money for a new outboard engine. The funding target was £7,000. After just 10 days that target had been exceeded; the exercise produced £7,025 on ‘Gogetfunding’ plus £2,500 from other sources including Beth’s Church back in the UK.
Shortly after, she wrote to say “the most huge THANK YOU for making our dream of a dinghy to continue Kikori’s TB work a reality”.
She felt that the response to the appeal had been incredible, and the team were very excited to be able to plan the purchase of their new motor. “What is most incredible is that you and others like you- people that I’ve never actually met personally – believe in this enough to support us in this way”.
Given that the funds had exceeded the amount required for the engine they were also able to replace the fibreglass dinghy with a bigger one and set aside funds to pay their operators/ drivers for their work on TB outreach patrols as nationwide budget cuts for health facilities meant that their workmen, who also function as drivers, had had their hours halved so only employed 18 hours/ week, but the TB trips are often 2-3 days. What’s left over has been allocated for upkeep and maintenance, and some for the TB programme which may include extra “ambulance” trips.
In early August the 23ft fibreglass dinghy and a 40HP Yamaha outboard arrived on a cargo boat from Port Moresby. “Hugest big thanks from all of us in Kikori for helping us to continue to see people live well and healthy in this little corner of the swamp here!”