Posted by: joan49 | October 27, 2011

My Purpose and My House …

Hi Everyone,

I’ve been trying to put up a new post for awhile now but our electricity has been out for weeks.  It happens often here because if something breaks at the electrical company, they have to wait for the spare parts to come from the mainland, and that can take a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile…my purpose here in Mentawai is really two-fold: first, to provide a short-term work force as there are very few medically trained people here (only 2 doctors for maybe 30,000 people, and one of those doctors just started here last month), plus a few nurses and mid-wives.  I’m currently working 3 days a week in a small church-owned medical clinic that has only been able to operate 2 days a week because has only one staff, a local man with no formal medical training who hands out donated medicines to those who show up.  I’m also doing about 3 mobile clinics a month in villages that are exceptionally remote or have no road access, so have zero or almost zero access to healthcare.

Second, and more importantly, I am doing trainings to capacity build local health care workers (called kaders, and most of whom, like the guy who works at the church clinic, have no formal medical training), as well as trainings with the government nurses and midwives who work in various regions with little professional support, often without access to proper equipment, and/or access to a regular supply of medicine.

As many of you know, I’ve also been building a house here which has turned into a bigger adventure than I could have originally imagined…Back in April when I first moved to Sikakap, which is like this little frontier town of a couple thousand people, I discovered that it was impossible to find a house to live in that didn’t already have significant earthquake damage.

The local church offered to give me a piece of land for free for as long as I wanted to live there, but I would have to pay for building the house, and whenever I decided to leave, the house would become property of the church.  That problem solved, my teammate Eddy helped me solve the next by designing a home for me that would be built using earthquake resistant techniques.

The idea began to take hold and so we set about in earnest to get this house built.  Turns out building a house, even a very simple one, in Mentawai has some unique challenges. To be continued….



  1. Hi, Karen. How exciting that you are building your own home there. That sounds like a great idea. I look forward to the next chapter.

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