LAE, Papua New Guinea
– Members of the multi-national mission Pacific Partnership 2011 based aboard amphibious transport dock ship USS Cleveland (LPD 7) conducted medical and dental examinations at Haus Clare Crisis Centre for Children May 21 in Lae, Papua New Guinea (PNG).
Pacific Partnership is the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s annual humanitarian assistance initiative to Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. Its mission is to work with partner and host nations through medical, dental, veterinary, and engineering programs, along with subject matter expert exchanges for a sustainable improvement in quality of life and quality of service for host nations.
The Haus Clare Crisis Centre provides care for 18 children who were either found on the streets by police or welfare agencies, or were orphaned by parents with AIDS. The government of Papua New Guinea identified the Centre as an ideal location for Pacific Partnership’s mission to that country.
The Haus Clare Crisis Centre was constructed by City Mission PNG and opened in October 2008. It receives funds from City Mission PNG and also raises money by renting rooms to young women who work in the local area. Funds raised by the mission pay for the children’s’ education.
Three medical and two dental personnel from the U.S. and Australian navies provided basic medical and dental examinations for the children. The children do not receive regular examinations because the Centre does not have the funding to take them into the city on a regular basis.
Yet the children still receive daily care from the nuns that run the Centre. "It has been a privilege to come here and see these children," Cmdr. Eve Currie, Navy Nurse Corps, said. "They are lucky to be here; the sisters care so well for them."
Despite the lack of regular dental care, the staff ensures the children take the best possible care of their teeth through daily brushing.
“I loved working with the children,” said Able Seaman Dental Assistant Melissa Lavelle. “They were all so happy, and they had immaculate teeth. It looked like they’d been brushing their teeth since they were born.”
Haus Clare is run by an Anglican nun, Sister Ann, with the help of three of her fellow sisters, Sisters Edna, Margaret and Judy. They are assisted by Miriam Momori, who is a single mother living with her four children at the center.
“Words can’t explain how thankful we are that the Americans and Australians came to check on the children,” Momori said.
Medical personnel provided instruction to the Crisis Centre's staff in basic first aid and CPR. Previously, none of the staff had any formal training in these procedures.
"Your coming here is a very great help," Sister Ann said. "Today there is so much joy in me, I cannot express it."
Pacific Partnership personnel also delivered six pallets of donated goods from the Church of Latter-Day Saints and Project Handclasp. The pallets contained boxes which were filled toys, clothes, laundry detergent, hand sanitizer, soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste.
During the past five years, Pacific Partnership has provided medical, dental, educational, and preventive medicine services to more than 220,550 people and completed more than 160 engineering projects in 16 countries.
Pacific Partnership 2011 will continue to Timor-Leste and the Federated States of Micronesia following their mission in Papua New Guinea.
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