Tuesday, November 24, 2009


We are having problems with our toilets in the new hospital. People are putting anything and everything down the holes which blocks up the sewer. While I was away, everything was blocked, and it was a dirty, smelly job to pump the sewage beyond the blockage to get things flowing again. We are trying to educate the people on how to use the toilets (signs in the bathrooms, tok saves on the wards), but it just isn't something they have a lot of experience with. The majority of villagers in PNG do not have running water in their houses, and their bathroom is the bush outside and they use whatever leaves, cloth, or paper they have around. Our toilets at the old hospital were not flush toilets, so it was ok to put whatever down the holes. Bush churches remind me of this problem and help me to understand this better. Anytime I go to a bush church, I try and dehydrate myself by drinking very little, if anything, prior to going out so I don't have to use the facilities. Some places have them and others don't. A recent visit to Tumbang church was no different. After church, Susan and Jessica mentioned that we can use the pitpit toilet if we need to. They said it was an enclosed area and was our best option unless you didn't have to go for the next 3 hours, knowing we had a bumpy road ahead of us. So we went. I was quite pleasantly surprised by what I found. There was a nice outer wall which gave some privacy. The inside was clean, didn't smell too bad, and had a small enough hole so you didn't feel like you were going to fall in. It was really pretty nice, but very few are like this. Maybe we should get the people of Tumbang church to teach the hospital patients how to keep the bathrooms clean. Pray that we would be able to sort out our sewage issues at the new hospital and that people quickly learn how to use the facilities appropriately. We have a specialist from Australia coming this week to help us sort things out.