Hope at Last for Rural Volunteer Worker with Disability

By Quinton Alomp – EM TV News, Port Moresby

A 65 year old Sepik woman who has dedicated her life to serving others in the isolated mountains of Telefomin, West Sepik, has dreamt that one day her efforts will be recognised by the government.

And after 50 years, her dream has come close to reality.

For those years, Jessie Bong, has been silently helping pregnant mothers during labour, prescribing medication for the sick, acting as a mediator, welfare officer and recently a literature trainer in her rural Eliptamin village.

No government has recognised her. But she voluntarily dedicated her life serving her people.

Interestingly, Jessie is living with a disability. At the age of 10, she developed polio, a disease many children in her area became vulnerable to because of limited immunisation coverage at that time.

Jessie has been living with polio till the age of 16 when a Baptist Church missionary visited the area and took her for treatment in Australia in 1963.

Polio had crippled her left leg and underwent surgery. After nine months recovering in Australia she came back to Eliptamin with crutches, and with the aim of helping women in the village.

Her disability has not prevented her. She has witnessed many women in her village dying at child birth and many losing their children through common malaria and cough.

She went for a medical training alongside a local health worker where she learnt how to assist women at child birth, the basics on prescribing medication for the sick and how to give injections.

Once the medical officer satisfied was with her training, she was released back to her village where she carried out these tasks alone.

“I work as a volunteer, no pay and no government support,” Jessie said.

Recently, Jessie regrouped over 40 people with disability in her area and led women in her village to form the Eliptamin Women’s association.

With no formal education, Jessie went a to Baptist church Bible school in Banz, Jiwaka, and has now become the literacy trainer in her village.

She has more than 20 mothers now attending her literacy classes.

Her dream to one day be recognised by the government has almost come to reality.

Jessie came across prominent business women advocate, Janet Sape, through a mobile phone conversation few years back. Today, Ms Sape formally introduced her to Minister for Community Development, Delilah Gore, in Port Moresby.

She is in Port Moresby to register the women’s group and request government’s assistance to fund the rehabilitation, literacy and the programs she is running in Telefomin.

Minister Gore told Jessie she will send officers to do research at her establishment in Telefomin, and they will support her work.

Janet Sape was delighted, saying after 50 years, Jessie’s dream will come true.

On Independence Day last month, she was given a medal award by Telefomin MP, Solam Mirisim, on behalf of the government for her voluntarily work in the community.

Jessie was also presented with a new wheelchair by the Kapi Foundation.

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