Last Days in Temotu Province
09 August 2018 | Santa Cruz (Ndendo) Island, Temotu Province, Solomon Islands
After leaving Utupua it was time to make our way back to the eastern coast of Santa Cruz (Ndendo) Island before heading back to Lata. Another fantastic and quick sail found us arriving in Dendu Bay under hazy conditions by mid afternoon �- visibility was down to less than 3 miles. On arrival outside the main village of Nangu, we passed a note to a passing canoeist who promptly headed back to shore to deliver said note to the relevant authorities. By the time she reached shore I estimate there were 100 people surrounding her canoe to find out what was happening!
We ran clinics over several days at Nanga as well as the biggest village (Bimber) on the large offshore island called Lord Howe Island. On the way back from Bimber we stopped at the health clinic settlement at Dendu to give the clinic nurses a supply of reading glasses to supply to those we missed. A local tramp steamer pulled in with many people on board. Someone must have pointed us out to a passenger and so we were at it again for the next hour or two. How can you refuse to help when someone walks up to you with his glasses held onto his face by a piece of string?
And.... we saw our first crocodile in the Solomons !!! Probably two metres long. The people don't go swimming in the lagoon there but it doesn't stop them from paddling around in their canoes. Some of the visitors who paddled out to Monkey Fist were kids as young as 10 or 12 and they had with them pikininis of less than 18 months old.
And it's time to say goodbye to the Temotu Province (Santa Cruz Islands)
After nine weeks in the Temotu Province it's time to set sail to other remote areas to the north. In the time we have been here we have seen only one other yacht which was anchored in Lata many weeks ago. The conditions here have often been very challenging but it has been worth the effort. Tomorrow we'll head to the small islands of Santa Ana to the south east of San Cristobal, 200 miles to our west, after that we are not sure due to our outboard motor situation. Our options regarding it have been whittled down and we now have three choices �- Frances fly back to Australia from Honiara and bring back the parts we need; continue on without an outboard or abandon the project altogether. We have decided that the third option is unacceptable to both of us as we still have too many pairs of eyeglasses on board and we feel that we can still reach many people who need them, so one way or another we will continue on. After we resolve that issue, our next destination is Ontong Java atoll (also known as another Lord Howe Island), 150 miles north of Santa Isabel Island and 600 miles north west of our present position. We plan to also conduct clinics along the way.
The feedback we have had since returning to Lata has been excellent, with many people stopping us in the street and thanking us for their glasses. A number of people have conveyed to us that �"in every house it is what people are talking about�". The director of nursing at the hospital said he had never had so many people come to any clinic at the hospital. Ana, the eye nurse at Lata, said we were able to achieve what she could not because they didn't have the health budget to allow her to do so. We have left a supply with the Ana at the hospital and we understand people who missed out during our clinics last month are already making their way up there to see her.
Both Frances and I feel we have achieved to the best of our ability what we set out to do in this remote part of the Solomons and that, as a result, many people's lives have been improved. We have left, as we always intended, supplies of various strength glasses at the local health clinics (and provided training) as well as with the hospital in Lata. By the time we leave we had fitted and supplied (including those left at the health clinics) 4,788 pairs of glasses (as well as given over 3,500 pairs of sunglasses).
And to the people who believed in us and gave their support - we thank you for helping us achieve what we have so far and we plan to build upon it over the next few months. Finally, the next post which I will publish shortly, will be a short and moving story by Frances about one of the people we were able to help in this remote Solomon Island province. Enjoy.