It was just after 6am Sunday morning. Volunteers are busy preparing for our regular visits to terminally ill patients in the People Living with Aids Ward in Port Moresby General Hospital, Papua New Guinea.However, our day started much earlier. At 4am volunteers were slicing fresh fruit.Paw-paw, bananas, apple, watermelon is being put on plates with a fork, in preparation for serving the delicious fruit platter to all the patients, supportive family at bedside, and nursing staff on duty in the ward.
This particular day is routine for all of us when we go to the hospital. After more than 10 years of service at this ward, all of us have a routine we follow on our hospital visit, which always goes like clockwork.
Speaking of clocks we reminded ourselves we need to be out of the ward by 8am, before the doctor does his/her rounds.
Now we are in the ward. Surgical masks are on. As is our usual custom, Phillip Vaki our PNG Director makes a public announcement.
In a light hearted announcement Phillip states “As you see the Operation Food For life volunteers are putting the customary surgical masks on. This is not a hold -up, IT’S A Hope UP!” Following the introduction smiles can be seen from the patients, family and nursing staff,
As is the usual custom Philip mentions when our volunteers come to the patients with the fruit platter, should they request prayer we would be happy to minister to their spiritual needs. In most cases this offer is warmly welcomed.
As I cast my eyes throughout the ward I feel it’s now not just air conditioned, but with our arrival, prayer conditioned. Dignity is being restored. Hope is given beyond our “special friends” beds of pain. Tears and emotions flow.
Many patients who are tearfully overwhelmed that complete “strangers” would make them feel the most loved person in the world. Emotions run high and freely by some of volunteers who are confronted by patients so desperately unwell.
The chorus “God Bless you” can be heard throughout the ward. These words are not just coming from our volunteers, but patients, family and even nursing staff.
God has blessed us by meeting the physical and spiritual needs of the stigmatised, marginalised, and forgotten.
After all this, is we are so proud to be volunteers for Operation Food for Life. We cannot wait to meet the physical and spiritual needs of our “family” in this ward on our next visit.