My six months with ADI was an experience I will always cherish. The medicine was not only eye opening, but served to provide me with a vastly different clinical mindset and understanding toward best patient care across multiple areas of medicine. I had the opportunity to examine and treat patients with diseases that virtually don’t exist in developed countries, including malaria, tuberculosis, leprosy, filariasis and yaws.
Nothing had prepared me for the sheer isolated and untouched paradise of New Ireland Province – sandy beaches, tropical rainforest, miles of un-spoilt reef and traditional villages. The place was simply unbelievable and I was lucky enough to live alongside the local people and enjoy and appreciate firsthand the traditional way of life that still exists.
We live in a wonderful privileged bubble in Australia, we are so so lucky and we seem blissfully unaware of this fact. Within two hours flight from my home I can step onto a totally different planet, a parallel universe, it is surreal. I am so blessed to have been given the opportunity to work in PNG, to ignite a passion for teaching, to have received in abundance and to have pushed myself beyond my limits.
We can, with the help of ADI, continue to teach, advocate, support, save lives, lead and just be there for the people of our closest and neediest of neighbours.
I was ADI’s first volunteer doctor to work in New Ireland, and I went again in 2013 which speaks for itself! I have done several other volunteer doctor jobs overseas and I thought this one was the most useful and rewarding. ADI is a small organisation and its management are very hands-on and involved. They are keen to get your ideas, feedback and suggestions. As a volunteer doctor you work closely with the local health staff ‘on the ground’ at health centres and with the Provincial Health office. You see and treat patients clinically who desperately need some medical help – but you don’t ‘take over’ from local staff.
New Ireland is beautiful and you’ll be treated to delicious fresh fish and some fruit and veg. Also, you might love the heat and humidity! I’d thoroughly recommend volunteering with ADI to any doctor, nurse or health administrator who wants to work with patients in need and is keen to work alongside the local health staff.
Patience, diplomacy, flexibility and a willingness to get ‘stuck in’ is what is needed to really enjoy your time in PNG. There is certainly no shortage of variety: one day immunising children in remote villages and the next participating in health planning meetings with church and government officials. If you want to use all of the life and professional skills you have – and find a few new ones – then this is an opportunity to grab with both hands.
My 3.5 months with ADI was an incredible and adventurous experience that has left a profound impression – I think about it every day. I was pushed beyond my physical and professional comfort zones many times, but ultimately those experiences gave way to the greatest sense of achievement and satisfaction. I now feel more skilled and confident as a practitioner.
ADI has deservedly built up a good reputation and a great deal of respect in the Western Province. It’s sometimes hard to believe the extraordinary discrepancies between our lives and the lives of our nearest neighbours in PNG. Although the overall situation seemed bleak at times, there were many examples of hope and progress, and a sense that so much can be achieved.
Everything about PNG is an experience like never before: trekking through jungle to villages that have never seen a doctor; hours on a dinghy on the Fly River en route to remote villages with breathtaking scenery and sunsets; seeing leprosy, filiarisis and other tropical diseases in actual patients and not just in textbooks; working at a grassroots level with local staff and communities; sleeping in traditional huts and eating local food.
Things don’t always go according to plan, but that’s all part of the adventure. Bring an open mind, a sense of adventure, tons of patience and a friendly smile.
Some days it’s like a big adventure: rivers and jungles, boat trips, bush hikes and meeting people whose lives are so very different from mine, yet in many ways so much alike.
If you are after an adventure, if you want to contribute to a team effort, if you want to do your bit with others who have given the best part of a lifetime to mission work, if you want to see how the other half struggle through life, if you want to see an ancient culture in our nearest neighbour, if you have patience, tolerance and persistence and you want to be challenged in all these areas, then come.
It tested my clinical decision-making, my medical judgement and my ability to improvise solutions. There were no x-ray machines in Kiunga, very limited pathology testing, and at times no batteries for torches (…) You could do a career here in Australia and still never see some of the medical conditions that I saw over two months in PNG.
I just love the out-of-town clinics. Here, it’s more about chronic pain and chronic bronchitis, TB and congenital defects in kids, and of course the occasional leprosy patient (…) The belief in custom is strong – no death is natural, and Western medicine is viewed skeptically. And there are many different languages; it’s a different one in each village.
Working for ADI in PNG is about the medicine, the people and the place. It’s about pathology you will never see in Australia and it’s about life experiences that you will never have at home. You will be part of the lives of people who are socially and medically isolated and be part of the lives of people who are disenfranchised. You will learn about yourself and your limits. You will make a difference. A big difference.
Complete the Online Application Form
or download and complete the Volunteer Application Form. Send the form to:
Postal: PO Box 324, Seaforth NSW 2092 or
If you would like further information about these roles, please contact ADI’s Volunteer Coordinator:
Phone: (02) 9907 8988.