New Irelanders Nell Tuka and Rayleen Papaol are eager to serve communities back home. Between the two of them, they share almost thirty years experience as health workers. They were supported by Newcrest Mining Limited through the Australia Awards In-PNG Scholarships to study a Bachelor of Midwifery at Pacific Adventist University, and since graduating in 2019, Nell and Rayleen returned to Kavieng to help women and babies in their home province.

As a midwife at Kavieng General Hospital, Nell deals with a variety of cases daily.

“The maternity ward here provides a combination of services, compared to some other hospitals. There is the labouring ward, ante and postnatal care and gynaecology services as well. My role is very interesting but challenging at the same time,” Nell explains.

“The ratio of staff to patients is one to fifteen. We have to be very skilful to manage different cases during busy periods. But it’s rewarding to use my skills and I love my work as a midwife.”

While Nell attends to different types of cases and situations, Rayleen is focused on family planning education and advocacy at Kavieng Urban Clinic.

Photo showing Nell Tuks working at the post natal ward at the Kavieng General Hospital

Nell Tuka at the postnatal ward at Kavieng General Hospital

“[Before studying] I was the Sister in Charge at the children’s outpatient at Kavieng General Hospital. There, I observed that we treated a lot of undernourished babies due to lack of family planning measures and birth control and first-time mothers not knowing how to care for their babies well. This was what prompted me to pursue midwifery studies,” Rayleen said.

“Now I can advise mothers about family planning and try as much as possible to involve their husbands to explain how they can help. There’s been an improvement in family planning awareness because more women are accepting the counselling and advice given.”

Newcrest Mining has partnered with Australia Awards PNG since 2017 to support health service delivery through the offer of midwifery and nursing scholarships to over 40 Papua New Guineans.

Both alumni said the support from Newcrest and the knowledge they’ve gained has been invaluable.

“I had to apply for a loan to go for studies. I was so happy to be supported by Newcrest because I was able to afford things I needed to support my studies,” Nell said.

“I was able to have my three children with me during my studies because both my husband and I were working. [Newcrest’s support] was a great help to me,” Rayleen added in support.

The passion for their profession is what drives Nell and Rayleen to continue their work. They hope that more nurses in New Ireland can recognise the need for more midwives in the province.