LONG ISLAND, Papua New Guinea — It was more than her ability to converse in English that caused Janet to stand out from the group. On the crowded deck of YWAM’s medical ship, the m/v PACIFIC LINK, Janet’s face at 38 years old showed considerably fewer marks of aging than her fellow Papua New Guineans awaiting similar surgical eye procedures.
Janet grew up like many of the other children on her small Papua New Guinea island. In her early teens she started bearing children. Now the proud mother of seven growing, healthy children, Janet looks back on those years with fond memories. Providing for a family of nine, however, is no small feat. Farming, gathering food, cooking and rearing children continues to be a full time job for her.
At 25, however, a growth began to spread from the corner of her left eye toward the pupil blanketing all surface area in its path. Unsure of how to deal with the development she sought for solutions. She spent precious time and money on the nine-hour sail to the nearest medical care facility in Madang — no small feat for a woman from an island where subsistence farming is the norm and currency is obsolete.
Quickly after entering the hospital, however, she was informed that nothing could be done for her condition. The local hospital had neither the resources nor medical professionals necessary to treat her symptoms and provide relief. Janet had since spent years and much of her money seeking what little medical care she could find beyond the shores of her small island home nine-hours from the nearest city. Defeated and disappointed, she returned to Long Island and resigned herself to the fact that her eyes would never be fixed outside divine intervention.
When word spread throughout the island that a medical ship had arrived to provide free health care services, Janet leaped at the opportunity to receive a second opinion on her diagnosis. After a quick check with the on-board ophthalmologist, Janet was elated to hear that her growth could not only be treated, but that it could quickly and easily be removed on board the PACIFIC LINK inside its operating theater.
In a matter of minutes, Janet had her operation and returned home with directives for a follow-up appointment the next day.
On this day, Janet walked off the PACIFIC LINK with the freedom to see her children without the hindrance of pterygium — the condition that has plagued her for so long. She is free not only from the growth that once shadowed her vision, but today she is free from the desolation of life without hope of medical care.
The PACIFIC LINK is so much more than just a ship to Janet. Its stalwart white bow is a reminder that she is seen, remembered, and taken care of. For the multitudes of those who have not been so fortunate as to catch a boat ride in the hope of medical attention, the PACIFIC LINK is more than comfort, it’s their only chance to seize the promise of a better life.
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