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  • Nov12Mon

    New Directions

    Canadian Salvationists extend medical mission in Papua New Guinea. November 12, 2018 by April Barthau
    Filed Under:
    Opinion & Critical Thought
    April Barthau and Hadassah at a cultural show in Papua New Guinea
    April Barthau and Hadassah at a cultural show in Papua New Guinea
    In September 2016, Canadian Salvationists April Barthau and Marco Herrera Lopizic embarked on a two-year mission in Papua New Guinea. A nurse and a doctor, they are running The Salvation Army's medical clinic in Port Moresby. In this blog for, they share their experiences.

    We have been doing a lot of reflecting these past couple of months.

    First, I have been reflecting because we have completed two years here in Papua New Guinea and have started our third year. Earlier this year, we were prayerfully contemplating whether to extend our stay and are happy to remain as long as the Lord guides us in ministry here. Papua New Guinea has been a beautiful home, full of culture, blessings, challenges and a rich ministry experience. We look forward to continuing to work at the Koki Urban Health Center, especially through so many changes that have occurred. 

    Therefore, secondly, we have been reflecting because the clinic's project with FHI 360 (a nonprofit human development organization) and USAID (United States Agency for International Development) has come to an end after six years of working to develop a STI and HIV program. We have been asking ourselves: What is the direction that the clinic needs to go? What is needed most for the physical, emotional and spiritual health of the community where we serve?

    With that project ending, there has been a big transition in terms of funding and staffing as we work on becoming part of the government system. We feel blessed and thank God that The Salvation Army has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Papua New Guinea National Department of Health and the National Capital District (NCD) Health Department. This is essential to the clinic's sustainability as it means we will have staffing and funding for our clinic. While we make this transition, please pray for us and our staff as we continue to provide health care to more than a thousand patients a month with one-third of the manpower we had under the STI-HIV project.

    Marco administers polio vaccinesDr. Marco Herrera Lopizic administers polio vaccines
    In terms of the clinic, please also pray for us as we embark on our second polio campaign. On June 22, 2018, Papua New Guinea recorded its first polio case in 20 years. There are now 14 cases in five provinces, including one case in our city. In September, under the NCD Health Department, our clinic was one of the polio vaccination sites. Our target was 665 vaccinations, and we successfully vaccinated 1,859 children under 15 years of age—280 per cent of our target! It was a huge success. 

    In November, we started our second polio campaign, which means extra work on top of the clinic's normal activities. We consider it our number-one responsibility to provide preventative health care through these vaccinations. These cases emerge not because people do not want to be vaccinated, but because it is difficult to access vaccines. Most of Papua New Guinea is rural. People travel hours or days to their nearest health post, but families are willing to do anything to protect their children, including traveling long distances and waiting many hours. But sometimes, the reality is that there are no vaccines available in the rural communities. (Let this be a reminder to my Canadian readers to get their flu shot!)

    Thirdly, and most importantly, we have been reflecting because our daughter, Hadassah, is now one year old. She has been, without a doubt, the best addition to our adventure in Papua New Guinea. We love watching her grow, learn and explore the world. She has started walking and scribbling. She loves swimming and eating. The first thing she does in the morning is look out the window to see what is happening in the world.

    So as we have been reflecting, I remember that we are here in Papua New Guinea because of God’s calling, that we can only do his ministry with the strength he supplies us, and that all we do is for his glory. As 1 Peter 4:11 says, “If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 

    Please pray for:
    1. Safety in the country during the APEC summit (November 16-18).
    2. Safe travels for us as we go home on furlough in December, to Canada and then Chile, returning to Papua New Guinea at the end of January. Pray that we survive the trip with Hadassah, particularly the long flights. Pray that we rest as we are feeling quite tired at the moment. 
    3. Hadassah to continue growing and developing. Pray that we will have wisdom in terms of how to raise her, especially as she becomes a toddler.
    4. Our nurses to have the best assessment skills and judgment as they see many patients each day and are responsible for their care and treatment.
    5. Our staff and management as we prepare for 2019. We are awaiting funding from the government and are looking into adding services, including pediatric HIV care. 

    Read past entries in April and Marco's missionary blog:


    On Tuesday, November 13, 2018, Ray Braddock said:

    April - I discovered this by accident. I am so proud of you and your beautiful family. You always had a vision for this kind of ministry and I can see God is using you in an amazing way. We will be remembering you and your ministry in prayer asking Him for his continued protections and empowerment.


    On Monday, November 12, 2018, Joy Emmons said:

    What a blessing to read of your ministry. Rotary wants stamp out polio. Actually they thought they had. Perhaps someone can put you in touch with Rotary in Canada.


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