| My Land, My Country | Edited
JOSEPHSTAAL - Jerolyn Arimbandai was the only female teacher at the newly-established Catholic high school at Josephstaal in the Madang Province.
She was married to Steven Arimbandai, a Josephstaal man and also a teacher at the school. They had one child and were expecting their second.
Jerolyn was attending the local antenatal clinic, where the health workers were expecting a normal, problem-free delivery.
On 27 June, she decided to move to town in preparation for the birth, a decision made necessary because the Josephstaal Health Centre had run out of basic medical supplies four months before.
Eight months pregnant, Jerolyn had to walk the 25 kilometres to Guam, leaving Josephstaal at 7 am and reaching Guam at 6:30 pm to catch a vehicle bound for Bogia.
The vehicle, overloaded with passengers and cocoa bags, departed at 9 pm and arrived at the Bogia District Health Centre at 4 am, Jerolyn already experiencing the onset of labour pain.
The delivery occurred but Jerolyn suffered a post-partum hemorrhage and was referred to Modilon General Hospital in Madang in the hope she would get there in time to be treated by doctors.
She died at the Modilon hospital gate.
Jerolyn’s decision to seek medical assistance elsewhere was due to the poor government health services available at Josephstaal.
The people there struggle to bring in goods. The only available government services are health and education. All the others are gone.
There are very few government officers serving Josephstaal and most professionals don’t want to go there because it is isolated and difficult for their families.
There is a permanent shortage of staff and equipment. To get goods and services to Josephstaal is expensive.
The old road from Madang to Sogeram is covered with tall grass and shrubs. Sogeram Bridge was washed away by floods in 2019 and has not been reconstructed.
The road is yet to be connected between Josephstaal and Guam. There is talk of constructing it, but the social media updates on its progress are all lies. There has been no progress.
There is a Middle Ramu MP representing this area and the death of Jerolyn Arimbandai poses the question of which road he is funding each year while the Josephstaal road continues to deteriorate.
Jerolyn Arimbandai’s death should signal to the provincial government that the distribution of funds is inadequate
The people of Josephstaal have much hope. But that’s all they have.