Posted on 18 June, 2018

“Oh wow, you’re going to Fiji for 10 days, awesome” she said.

“Well yes, but you don’t see Colonial War Memorial Hospital on Expedia” was my reply. She looked perplexed. I watched as the cogs were ticking over waiting for the follow up question.

“Wait, why are you going to Fiji?” was question two. And so it led into a conversation about my job, why I was going to Fiji, and what day-to-day life for the average Fijian is actually like.

I have a pretty awesome job. Sometimes though it’s hard to see the forest for the trees.

Long days, long meetings, budgets, spreadsheets, impossible deadlines. Stock arriving, stock not arriving, equipment broken, missing equipment, admin, and paperwork. Compliance checks, criminal checks, grant applications, application rejections, funding holes, corporate supporter rescue packages. These are some of the trees that prevent me from seeing the forest.

This week, amongst all the important meetings, tasks, and initiatives that I needed to work on this week, I was able to spend time on the Ward. I was able to connect with patients and their families, and with the Fijian community, and for the first time in a while see first-hand how much it all means to those impacted in Fiji.

Fast asleep in one of the cots was a baby girl named Lydia, a little over a year old. The talented Dr Ian Nicholson and the paediatric surgical team had fixed her heart. My own daughter and the baby before me share the same name, in fact there is only 4 months age difference between the two.


It was impossible not to reflect on the contrast of healthcare systems that is available to Australian Lydia (and thankfully not required so far), and available to Fijian Lydia. I was reminded that we like to call Australia the lucky country, and when it comes to healthcare we’re not just lucky, we’re world leading. I was reminded that it is not our privilege, but our responsibility to share this most valuable gift. I was reminded about the part I play in the process.

As most of the team departed Sunday morning, I drove to the hospital for one of the most tedious (but necessary) tasks that exists at OHI. I had to finalise the shipping list for all the equipment heading back home to Sydney in the next few days. The multi-tabbed spreadsheet and the corresponding mountain of boxes never seem to add up. As usual it didn’t, it took multiple counts and passes to find the human errors that occurred during the cataloguing 90-plus boxes and thousands of items. Finally the errors were fixed, and my work in Suva was complete.

I quickly ducked back to the Ward for a final goodbye to everyone I’d met in the past few days. Fijian Lydia was peacefully sleeping. I can’t wait to get home to hug my kids. I think I can see the forest again.


Tags:  Fiji,