In the morning I browse the shelf in the office where the logistics equipment is stored. I find a box labeled "silicone nose repair kit", curious as to what this is and assuming that "nose" is an Americanism for the front of a vehicle, I am shocked at my boss' reply "it's for when a woman's nose has been chopped or bitten off."
Later in the afternoon I am chatting to the locals in the area outside the gate where the smoking and chewing of betel-nut takes place. A woman waves to us and starts talking to the boss. She starts a monologue "...Jesus will save me, only he can... They do things do me in there", pointing to the hospital. I assume she is reporting abuse, but then I realise she is just talking about her treatment and is happy for someone to talk to. She is painfully thin. I am reluctant to walk back to the ward with her, fearful of what I might see after seeing a man lying on a blood soaked cardboard outside the A&E ward the day before. He was trying to drink from a water bottle but was too weak and had knocked it over. Staff were too busy to help him.
I see a colleague under the tree who is sitting with his extended family. He is not due on duty for hours. He tells me later that his nephew is in the hospital dying of AIDS. I ask the boss if we can
contribute to the 1,000 kina he will need to transport the corpse back to the family home, but we have already had 3 collections in the past week for a daughter, brother and other close family member of staff and our staff cannot afford to donate more money. Death surrounds us.
I am chatting about the subject of domestic violence later on with the doctor. I try to comprehend it, but I can't. Having paid their "bride price" many local men feel their wife is their property to treat as
they want, but (even if you can comprehend that) it defies logic to damage your most expensive asset. It seems impossible to understand what provokes the men. We have treated women who have had kerosene soaked rags inserted into them and lit (for punishment).
I learn that we have a problem in the way we record data! Our patients are categorised as "domestic violence" (e.g. broken nose from husband) or "sexual violence"(e.g. rape) but if asked, over 80% of domestic violence victims have also been the victims of sexual violence as it is so prevalent within home.
About an hour later I experience my first earthquake. The concrete steps I am sitting on shake a few inches. It lasted only about 8 seconds, but it was fun. The next day I learnt it was a 6.0, 182km
distant and 60km deep.