She loves `making a difference’

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An Oamaru woman has recently returned home after her third three-month volunteer stint with Youth With A Mission in Papua New Guinea.
YWAM is an inter-denominational, non-profit Christian missionary organisation, founded by Loren and Darlene Cunningham in 1960.
It includes people from 180 countries and a large number of Christian denominations, and over half of the organisation’s staff are from non-Western countries.
YWAM has more than 18,000 full-time volunteers in 1100 ministry locations, and trains about 25,000 short-term mission volunteers annually.
Miss Schieving first became involved with YWAM though Oamaru’s Christian Life Centre several years ago.
After she attended a YWAM training course in Townsville two and a-half years ago, she made her first mission trip to Papua New Guinea in March 2014, and went again in June 2015.
Miss Schieving said she was based both at sea and on land in several different provinces during her time in the country, as team leader of a group of 11 other volunteers.
“We have a medical ship that goes all around the different regions of Papua New Guinea and provides free healthcare services. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past three months on the ship, and staying with the locals, as well.
“On the ship, I was helping out with the different clinics they have. We provide dental work, orthodontal services, primary healthcare, upskilling and teaching. I was helping with the teaching side of things, playing with the kids and that kind of thing.”
She said many people in Papua New Guinea had little or no access to medical services New Zealanders took for granted.
Some areas had no or substandard roads, and Miss Schieving said there was one dentist for every 100,000 people in the country, one in five women died in childbirth, and tuberculosis had been declared a national health crisis.
While in the villages, she provided information to local residents on various health-related issues.
“We were studying flip charts with people and telling them the effects of malaria and how they can prevent it.
“There’s a lot of skin disease too, called grille.”
Grille, a form of tinea, is common in areas of high humidity and warmth.
Transmission is usually by direct personal contact between family members sharing household items or from parent to child soon after birth.
“They are in places where they can’t get soap and those kind of resources,” Miss Schieving said.
“Sometimes they have to walk anywhere from two to five days to a local health centre, so us going with a medical ship helps create hope in their lives.”
She was proud of the fact she had the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of many who were in desperate need of help, and said it gave her a new perspective on life.
“I love getting to help the people and just getting to be part of something, making a difference and being able to see that physical change –┬álike being able to give someone a pair of glasses so someone can see properly straight away … it’s really amazing.”
Miss Schieving is keen to go back to Papua New Guinea soon.