Answers to our Questionnaire for Visitors of Solomon Islands

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Sex? female
Profession/occupation? Medical Student
Home country? United Kingdom
What made you want to go to Solomon Islands? my previous 2 visits
Arriving in Solomon Islands
When did you arrive in Solomon Islands? September 2006
Did you encounter any bureaucratic difficulties? no
What was your first impression after arrival? Honiara was grimey and disorganised. Atoifi staff were friendly and very welcoming.
Living in Solomon Islands
What did positively surprise you? warmth of welcome
What did negatively surprise you? reported danger of spending time in Honiara
What took longest to get used to? Humidity
What did you miss most in Solomon Islands? Nothing!
What should you have brought along? Plenty of good books, snorkelling gear, simple medical equipment/gloves to leave
What did you do to prevent malaria? mosquito net, doxycycline, insect repellent
Place and province where you spent most of your time? Atoifi, Malaita Province
Other places/provinces where you stayed? Munda, Western Province
Where did you stay? Hospital transit flat in Atoifi, Agnes' Lodge in Munda
How long did you stay at each location? 3 weeks
How much did you pay for each? Atoifi - nothing, Munda - SBD 60/night
Where did you usually eat? home - Atoifi, lodge restaurant - Munda
What did you typically pay for a normal meal? SBD 60 supper at Agnes Lodge. cooking local food was only about SBD 5
What local food/beverage did you like most? fish
What local food/beverage did you like least? cassava
Mobile phone services
Money matters
Used Maestro card to get cash at ATMs.
Used Visa credit card to pay for goods/services.
Comments? ATMs are available in Honiara and Gizo, but not in Atoifi and Munda.
Having a Visa debit card allows you to use ANZ branches in the provinces.
Working in Solomon Islands
How did you usually go to work? walk, occasionally lifts in trucks
Where did you work? Atoifi Adventist Hospital and Helena Goldie Hospital
What was your occupation? Towards end increasingly independent review of patients, outpatients, assisting theatre
What were your working days and hours? about 8 - 12/1300, but flexible
What was particularly difficult in regard to your work? Very few investigations, accepting limits of available drugs and physio
Did you feel accepted by the locals? yes
What did you usually do in your spare time after work? Snorkel, walk, read, visit craftsmen, travel other islands
Questions for medical trainees of all levels (students to registrars)
How was the supervision? adequate
Comments Always available but not always volunteered
How was the teaching? good
Comments In Atoifi there was a strong educational environment - less so in Munda
Leaving Solomon Islands and looking back
When did you leave Solomon Islands? October 2006
How long was your stay? 2 months
How do you judge the length of your stay? too short
What did you learn from the locals? practical procedures, tropical medicine, Pijin English, local customs
Your advice to prospective visitors? Be trusting - they are genuinely warm, and patient with 'Solomon Time'
What did you miss most when back at home again? uncynical, generous people, fabulous scenery
What did you enjoy most when back at home again? Not sweating so more energy
Would you go back for another stay? Anytime!
Estimated total cost of your stay (including travel costs)? GBP 2,400 (lots of diving and travel)
Additional comments? It was just wonderful. Western Province was a lot of fun, Atoifi was fascinating culturally, and I felt totally embraced by the community. There were safety concerns in Atoifi after the beheading of a missionary in May 2003 (see note below), and there was almost no freedom to leave the hospital confines. This could be a bit suffocating but the rewards of such a genuine experience outweighed this. It was necessary there to be very sensitive to the strong Seventh-Day Adventist beliefs. We participated in their worship and I think they might have found it a bit strange if we hadn't. It took some time to get used to the unspoken rules of the community, and I don't know how they would regard an unmarried couple. Just thoughts... it was a wonderful experience and the combination of the two provinces was ideal.

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Note: Search for Lance Gersbach on Adventist News Network for some more information.