Posted by Megan Kraa, 10 February, 2018

When I hit the alarm clock, 4:11am flickered on the screen. I still had 2 hours until I needed to get up. A mental check list was going off in my head as well as a sense of excitement to visit the country I’ve heard so much about as a kid. My Dad spent a number his childhood years in Papua New Guinea (PNG) so I grew up hearing stories and singing songs about this special country. I know that this country also holds a special place in many of our volunteer’s hearts, Russell who also grew up here, Kym who was done 50+ trips all over the world, Susu who has done 18 alone to PNG…and many more volunteer stories.

Sitting on the plane, buckled in and ready for take-off with 10 of the 17 volunteers, I usually start to feel a bit more relaxed as the majority of my role with Open Heart International (OHI) revolves around assisting the Project Coordinators (Russell Lee for this trip) andthe pre-planning of the project, ensuring everything and everyone is good to go beforehand.

No matter how organised we try and be there is usually some sort of last minute drama. This time it was getting an emergency courier to and from Hawaii to ensure one of our volunteers, Allison Lamb, had her passport (with a visa) prior to boarding her flight. Safe to say both me and Allison were over the moon when she received her passport at 7pm the night before flying out, just in the nick of time!

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You can probably imagine me having a little “Yes we did it!” moment when departure day comes around on my calendar for each project visit. This time is no different except that I am lucky enough to be joining the team. Although the majority of my pre-work job is done, it’s time to ‘hand over the baton’ so to speak to the skillful team of nurses, doctors, biomedical engineer and physiotherapist to do the real work!

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To say it never gets old is an understatement, each time stepping out of the plane and onto new soil brings a sense of overwhelming excitement and the hope of new experiences. I think I speak for most of our volunteers when I say that, because if this wasn’t the case then why would we have so many people return, who we affectionately refer to as our repeat offenders?

It is quite an interesting thought when you actually sit down to think about what our volunteers offer. They are willing to travel across the world to help out complete strangers, give up their spare time, miss seeing their family and loved ones, not get paid but to actually give and invest. I don’t know about you but I think that is pretty amazing!

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Last night when everyone arrived we had a team dinner and meeting to get the ball rolling. Today the team have been spending the morning setting up, familiarising themselves with the Port Moresby General Hospital and the local team. Once this is all done the theatre team will hopefully start on their first case for the visit.

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