© Sara Cameron Links | Terms and conditions
Originally produced for UNICEF
Bernard Jorimbi, Ward Member, Atemble Ward, Middle Ramu District, Madang Province
“Atemble is very isolated because there are no roads here, only the river. We are two hours walk from the district headquarters at Aiome where there is a school and a health centre, but these are too far away for our children and too far for us to carry our sick people, especially during the night or during heavy rain and floods.
“Only three or four people in Atemble can read and write, and I am one of these. I used to have a job with the government as a cashier but after I was retrenched I came to Atemble because this is my wife’s village. I was elected as the Ward Member of Atemble in 1997. At that time I didn’t think that health was so important but then we faced a big crisis. In a very short space of time, three village women died in childbirth because we could not get them to the health centre at Aiome.
“Atemble only has 347 people and so these losses affected all of us. Then we had terrible floods and my own children became very ill with malaria, but we couldn’t get them to the clinic at Aiome.
“I told the people here, “Look, we cannot just sit here waiting for the government to come. We have to do something to help ourselves.” I convinced the people that we should build a health post and a house for a community health worker. I promised that if they built these, then I would go to the district headquarters and try to get a female health worker. We especially wanted a female so that she could help the women in our village.
“It took us two months to put up the buildings and then I went off to Aoime and spoke with Paul Mabong, the Health Manager for this area. He told me that they did not have plans to put a community health worker in Atemble because it is a small place, but he came and looked at our facilities and he was impressed. He decided to help us.
“Paul Mabong told us, “We will let you have a female health worker but you have to look after her because if you don’t take good care of her she will leave and you will have to have a man instead.” We agreed.
“This was the beginning of the development in the village of Atemble. We had the same success with our school. We built a classroom and a house for a teacher and then we were able to get a teacher for the first two grades. Then we started with “Colour My House” and the family assessments and we began to see more changes happening. We built the pikinini skel haus, where we weigh the children and learn about health and nutrition.
“We sent a letter to the district, provincial and national health authorities demanding for all the children and all the women to get immunized, because there was an insufficient vaccine supply at the health centre. We began using iodized salt. Many of us prepared kitchen gardens. We also used the “Colour My House” activity to make a plan for the village that we are taking to the Local Level Government and the District. Many people came to see what we were doing. They said they could use what we were doing in Atemble to help villages all over Papua New Guinea.”
Click on the map for the location of Atemble Village
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