Special project for you!

This is a short and simple sentence of e-mail subject from
Pat which turned out to be a remarkable mission for me.  

I hope you would come along with me on my journey and enjoy walking through this whole new experiences.  I would bring you along as you could look over my shoulder by this blog post
and the photos.  So, again, if you are big
fan of my post, then please sit back, relax and enjoy reading the story, recommended for your free time.  For you who do not like to read a long long long long story, then please skip the wording and jumping to the photos part, which will still can tell stories, and may even better than my writing.

It was a normal Friday night for me when like to stay up late and relax.  I heard just a bell from my mobile phone rang once which is normally I use for notify if my work e-mail come in.   But this time was difference, and I saw Pat was the sender.  Once I read the subject on the e-mail “Special project for you!”, that was made it like the sound of the “Mission Impossible” song was starting to play on my head.  I have this song on for the ringtone when a physician on my special contact list calling in – asking for help on patient cases.  I almost gone to bed when I was reading her message, but I got up and start to read her message more carefully. 

Pat was asking for a help on helping a Solomon
Island physician to sign the GIPAP MOU.  She said there
was an issue about communication difficulty with this physician.  And the first person that came in her head to send for
this mission was me.  The trip will be need to be happened shortly, and possibly the following months.  There was no urgent flag and deadline, but I knew this must be something cannot be waiting.  Spent less than a minute to think, I jumped back to my laptop, turned it on and wrote reply to Pat say “Yes!  I
am the most happy to take this mission.”   I told her that I have experiences with
people from Vanuatu, Tonga, Fiji, and also from the Solomon Islands.  So, I get familiar with their cultures, traditions and
English accents.  Pat wrote me back
quickly said that she was happy and will pass this to Danielle to start on the trip arrangement   She said that Novartis was also thinks of me
for the mission as well.   Pat said the timeline is very tight and I need
to make the trip so soon.  I did not know
what it was, but later I realized why…

I have been hearing the GIPAP is closing down or modifying into NOA in some of the
countries, this is the great news to hear that Novartis is considering open
GIPAP in a new of developing country.  I would do
anything to help to make it happened.. that only thing was in my mind … 
During waiting for Danielle to contact me, I started to do the
research and plan for traveling. Visa was the first thing I considering.  I have to get two visas to get into Solomon
Islands that what I thought.  I called
the Solomon Islands Embassy that the lady graciously told me that there is no
visa required for Thai, but I need to get the visa from the country that I take
off to enter the country, which mean Australia.

I always open a new folder for filing E-mail communication when I enter to the new project.  I opened “Solomon Islands” for the mission and started to filing the e-mail, so then it easy to work on and come back to review the e-mail as I need to.  A couple of days after Danielle began to discuss and sent me
the communication e-mail between her and Dr. Elizabeth Wore, the Solomon
Islands Physician.  I agree with Pat that
we have very limited communication with this physician and I was so worried if
I would be able to connect with her.  I
imagine she would be someone so difficult to talk to like some of our Thai senior
physicians who would never replied e-mail unless it necessary.  There were so many pieces of information I need to find out.

Danielle said to me that the date of my visit to Dr. Wore on very specific date, July 18-19, and it was only two weeks and a few days from that day.  I have about two days to prepare everything for
the Australian Visa application.  I need
to ready and only one chance to get the visa, and there were another two more weeks if I need to resubmit it.  I did not want to take that risk, I have to get the Australian Visa was only outcome I set.    While waiting for the required document from Danielle and Dr. Wore for the Australian Visa submission.   I keep
communication with Danielle on what I was the plan for me to do in Solomon
Island.  I was doing some research on
hotels, airlines and whatever to make it save and effectively for MAX.  Searching,
booking and writing back and forward these hotels to finalize everything.  I believe that this is one of the skill that MaxStation should have.  It was look like I have to do more when I
talked more with Danielle. Besides helping Dr. Wore to sign MOU, there was a
list of thing for me like, to set up training with Dr. Wore and anyone who
involve in GIPAP like Pharmacists, to set up the TC for Axios to talk with the
Dr. Wore and people how were getting involve.  

I was
working in the night after working hours for the visa submission preparation, documents and
presentation and keep communication with Danielle.  And the more close to the time was the more
mission I got and the last additional mission came just the day before I took
off.  It made this trip worth wide to
make.  I finally introduce myself with
Dr. Wore and she asked me to call as Dr. Elizabeth. Our both countries are call
people by first name, so we feel comfortable with that.  So, now I call her Dr. Elizabeth. The last question to the Dr. Elizabeth
whether the hospital has the facilities like projector and computer with
internet connection.  The answer was she
was not sure but will find one.  To me it
sound like this must be something very difficult for the hospital, and I pictured the hospital would be like…  

As I planed, after two whole weeks that I went submit the Visa application.  I got the Australian Visa in late morning and then my flight
was in that night.  I stop over in
Brisbane for a night to catch the flight to Honiara, the main island for
Solomon.  I have been to Brisbane two times
in difference occasions, one for transit to Papua New Guinea and other time for Fund
Rising on my previous work.  One of my
Australian friends who live in this town came to see me at the hotel for catch
up dinner.  He came alone all the way
from his house by bus and then train and then to my hotel.  I was so surprise that how he made it since is
a physical handicapped and on a wheelchair.  It is very easy for my friend to travel along
even the whole country since the government so support to the handicapped, very
difference from where I come from… and maybe the place that I was going to… 

Next morning I caught the flight to Honiara.  Honiara Airport is a small airport, maybe the
same size of airport in countryside of Thailand.  The flight attendant were two guys in uniform.  They did not look attractive as the flight attendance in most of the airlines.  I arrived in Honiara almost noon time and a guy was waiting for me with my name on the card picked up me up with his van.  There was only me in that van, so I sat inform of the van and talked to the guy.  I start to hear the accent in his English and getting more information of Solomon Islands.  Actually, he is a Fijian and came here during the Civil War around 6 years ago to look after the country after the war settle down.  He confirmed that it is safe now in the country and people start to re-build their lives and families.  People here speak “Pidgin English” which is the language of Papua New Guinea and covert from English … I do not know much about the history but can guess that England come took over the country and made people to be salve so then converted the language.  I would describe Pidgin as a simplified English.  They make up some words from English and make it easy and simply and no tense.  I would understand around 30-40 percent sound of English words.  I like the language since it make people sound very sincerer and friendly.  

Before making the trip, when I told people that I was going to “Solomon Islands”, then they would say what kind of place is that..  Is it an island? or country? or what?  Someone says “It sound like a country in Middle East?” “It should like King Solomon in the Bible”  or even “Is that the place where the Salmon Fishes live?”  or what ever brand of the commercial things that they could think off. The truth is, Solomon Island is a small country composes of a group of islands located in pacific ocean.  The population is around half of a million, most of people are fishermen or farmers. Honiara is the main island and the capital city.   The temperature was cold in Brisbane .. was like 9 C, and now it was like 30 C in Honiara.  I like warm rather than cold whether.. so it was just fine for me..  

When I am making such a trip un-expecting things always
happening.  After I finalized the room check in, the hotel reception told me
that I need to purchase service hours card to get access to the internet.  I was mad to hear that. I said the hotel
booking said there is free wifi in every room. 
I asked to talk to the hotel manager, who wrote to me on the hotel
confirmation, her name is “Rose”.  Rose
said the same thing that the reception just have said.  She explain nicely with smiles that the free
wifi means that I could use the wifi “freely” in any corner in the hotel,
however, I need to purchase the internet hours.  Okay, there is no way going to win this war since I was in among them.  I
decided to buy the internet hours since need to use it.  You know what, the room that I book was not
in the area that I can access to wifi internet. 
I went nut..  this is crazy.  I asked
Rose nicely that I can to any room that I can use the wife internet, and she
did went to talk to the owner and came back said that they would give me free
upgrade me to the room on the top.  A
hotel bell boy came to help me move the bag from my first deluxe room that tiny
and old, the door nope is almost to fell off.  
We climb up the ladder that equal about four stories floor and put me in
the room and name as superior, with a magnetic key-card   Okay, now it was worth enough.

I was calling both the Dr. Elizabeth and the hospital phone
number that she gave, but I could not reach both of them.  I wrote e-mail to her said that I arrived and
will try to call her again to arrange the meet up.   Dr. Elizabeth called me back in the late
evening said that she was working and had just finished. 

“We have lost one patient already”  That was the first thing Dr. Elizabeth told me over the first phone conversation.  

She said there there were three of them and one has lost a couple of weeks ago since this patient was live away from the main island.  I said that I will do the best to keep the two who were waiting.  Dr. Elizabeth said that they are two men and she will be happy to arrange so I can see them both.  I was so happy and look forward to meet with them… the people that I will come help… We have lost one but we still have a chance to save two lives or even more…

were talking of how to meet up and just realized that we have never seen each
other photos before.  So, that was a kind of blind date.  That was only first time I
heard her voice and sound she is a nice and easy going person… not the one I
imagined.   After Dr. Elizabeth guided
that I could walk to the hospital through the China Town or along the main
road.  I was guide to meet up with her at
the “Medical Ward”.  It was sound like
easy.  I started to arrange the documents I bought from Bangkok and make it set… I thought I was ready… 

I set up the clear goals for this mission in three part;

1.) GIPAP Meeting Training and then have Dr. Elizabeth sign MOU
2.) Arrange Teleconference between Axios and the people who are involve
3.) Meet up with the two CML patients and help on applications 

Okay, now it looks like a good and challenging mission… 

Next morning I had the last TC with Danielle through my laptop in the hotel room before heading
off.  We want to make sure that everything was set.  However, there was a last request from Axios is to
handle a letter to the Ministry of Health MOH.  No surprise that any could happened and that was not the only challenge I found…

Honiara has a tropical climate  where I was able to walked along the street and see local
people.  People here look similar to other Oceania People have very dark skin, big round eyes
and curry fluffy curry hair.  People here
still walk barefoot, chewing betel nuts.  It took only 15 minutes to reach the hospital and walking across the street was the last thing before I enter to the hospital.  Cars here run not very fast and I noticed that there no motorcycles on the street… very interesting.

While I was walking into the entrant of the hospital and just turn
to a lady who came across the road together with me of where the Medical
Ward.  I thought she was a mother who
came with her daughter to the clinic but it turn out that she was a hospital nurse.  

Walking through the path way of the General Referral Hospital, the main and government hospital, I feel that this is like a small and low developing hospital in a countryside.  

I kept continue walking through the pathway, and pretty sure that I followed the nurse instruction
very carefully.   I could not find the Medial Ward as Dr. Elizabeth.   I was about to reach the
another door which I think is the hospital entry, so I decide to ask for the
direction for the second time.  I saw one a young lady who
looks like a nurse in white long dress. 
She told me that I have passed it quite a distance.  I said that I am sure I look for the sign but
could not see it, but say thank you and about to turn and walk back.  

“Are you Mr. Wirat?” The lady asked. 

I was surprised how she knows me, maybe she
was Dr. Elizabeth assistant nurse.  And
before I ask her the question of who she is, she said “I am Dr. Elizabeth.” and
she smiles.  I was laughing how amazing I
bumped into her in the crowed hospital.  I was laughing and took me a while to believe
that she was Dr. Elizabeth.  She look
younger and friendly than I thought.  She smiles and grape my hands just to make me settle down with the surprise meet up.  She
said that she was seeing patients at OPD in the other ward and about to walk to
the Medical Ward to see if I arrived.  She
showed me the Medial Ward sign and I realized that it was tiny and has only one
side on the roof.   

The very first question that I asked Dr. Elizabeth that how she found GIPAP.  She said that she sent specimen for her patients to get diagnostic test done in Brisbane and then a doctor there recommend her to get GIPAP.  That were it was started. 

Dr. Elizabeth took me
to the Pharmacy Department and said that she has got the projector  and borrowing the class room from the Pharmacy.  When we arrived the room, there were many people in the room and started to leave the room.  Dr. Elizabeth told me that they are students were studying to become pharmacists.  In Solomon Islands, there were not a proper medical school to train medical staff, need to get the education in other countries, like Australia, Papua New Guinea or Fiji.  So, these student are poor and could not afford to go study in other counties.  Some of the student who get good score will be funded to study further to become professional pharmacy or even registered doctors. 

I start to unpack my bag and set up the laptop with the projector, while the pharmacists were entering the room.  I was able to start the training and meeting on time by having everyone introduce themselves.  There were 11 people in the room, 2 doctors and 9 pharmacist, one of them is a volunteer pharmacist from Australia.  I started the training with the PowerPoint Presentation introduced MAX, Who we are and What we are doing and then to the part of GIPAP process.  It look like they all understood well and no interrupt questions during my presentation.  But after, the questions mostly came from the pharmacy team, concern of how long would it take for the drug to delivery, for how many, and a lot more.  The meeting training ended in around 2 hours when there no questions were asked.  Then I gave them the gifts from MaxSmiles – clothes bags and wristbands from MAX.   Then we took the group photos.  

Everyone were seem happy with the presentation and training, knowing the drugs for a type of cancer is coming to the hospital.  After Dr. Elizabeth and I still continue conversation on what we need for the the program in the hospital.  She showed me the pharmacy room and where they keep the medicine, and the special medicine which mostly donation or cancer drugs.  There were not so many the medicine on the shelves as in the cabinets, and some were kept in a fridge.  Dr. Elizabeth said that the medicine is very limited for patients.  Although, they are full funded by the government and everyone get the treatment for free, many time that the medicine ran out and patient need to wait for the medicine.   There were sometime they patients just because of they do not have the medicine for patients…  So, they did not even think of other high cost medicine in the hospital. 

Dr. Elizabeth was walking around to hospital and show me where she go for the internet to reply Danielle and my e-mail.  I am now understand why it would take her so long to get back to us.  She would work for long hours a day and then sneak into the hospital library or ask for the key from the Diabetic Ward to get in the night just to check and reply e-mail. She there were internet connection to the Medical Ward where her office is, but it was cut down after they move the operation room to the hospital cafeteria after the rain storm broke the whole roof of the operation room down and they have not fund to fix it.  Since then, there were no internet connection to her office as well as no more hospital cafeteria, means no food, drink and snack were sold in the hospital… 

The next mission is the set up the Teleconference and I feel that it was going to be hard to happened.  Dr. Elizabeth said that they were no teleconference machine in the hospital, or they even never held any teleconference in the hospital ever.   They did not have even a telephone with a speaker.  They were normally borrow the teleconference machine and room in the Ministry of Health, which located right across the street.  They were using a lot when Tsunami hit the islands.  We went up to see the Medical Superintendent in this office.  His name is Dr.  Rooney.   Dr. Rooney was in his office, which is a nice simple room on the second floor.  He said that he asked for the borrowing the teleconference room at the Ministry of Health but he heard nothing back.   

Dr. Elizabeth was showing me around the hospital and I could see that how patients stay in the hospital.  She said that there are around 300 beds in the hospital, but during the dengue fever outbreak, there people were people were laying on the floor corner and even the walking way.  She and the nurses were working like 24 hours a day, and even that more than 10 patients die due to the disease.  The hospital always lack of the doctors and nurses as well as the medicines, tools and just a proper equipment.    They need to train people to work in the hospital rather than send them to the medical school outside the country.  Or even sometime need to train an outstanding pharmacist to be a medical doctor so then they can share work load.  But still, they lacking of doctor to work in the hospital, or even in the country.  

We were walking around the hospital and think what is the best way to arrange the teleconference.  Dr. Elizabeth told me while walking that the doctors in the Solomon Islands are limited.  Most of the students who have got the support from the Government to study in Australia would never came back.  Although, The Government change the policy to send the student to Fiji,  Dr. Elizabeth only one who came back after they sent three in that year.  She said that they are only three Medical Doctors in the country. One doctor was working the Ministry of Health, second is the Medical Superintendent and third one is her.  So, no surprise when she said that she work long hours and 7 days weeks.  She often go home late at night after long clinic day and ward visit. 

It was almost afternoon when Dr. Elizabeth still could not find the place.  I was start to feel hungry and thought that I would go have lunch at anywhere she goes, but she said that she will need to go back to work at the ward, many patients waiting to see her.  I said that I would better go back to the hotel and get some lunch, and then meet up in the evening after she finished the clinic.   She said that she will call me if she finished work and we can continue the in the evening. 

I was walking through China Town this time since I was missed it in the morning.  China Town in this country look totally difference.  It was very quiet and not very well set up.  The road was still rough and unfinished.  The shops on both side closed and has only one door to enter.. very dark inside.   The shop keeper, all are Chinese, would stay in a high up counter where their workers, Solomon Islander, carrying thing for the customers.   I have got a Chinese background, so I look alike one of these vendors.   However, I feel the Chinese people here are not very friendly as the Solomon People.   I found nothing much were sale on the street, only betel nuts and a kind of food that look like a smash potato fired warped in a piece of paper.   I want to stay safe for the whole time there since it is important and did not feel like to walk in anyone of this shop so decide to walk back direct to the hotel.  I had quick lunch at the hotel and then went to my room to take a nape..  I woke up in late afternoon and found that it has been 3 hours that I slept … I have not herd any ring from the doctor so better go check.  I arrived to the hospital faster this time and went directly to the clinic that Dr. Elizabeth was working.  She was still there with the last patient and I was waiting out side the room.  It was almost 5pm and she has been working since I left.  I asked if she want to rest but she said that we better rather continue finding the material for the teleconference.  I was thinking that there were two possibilities that we could do.  

1.) Have Axios call Dr. Elizabeth’s mobile phone that connecting with a speaker. 
2.) Set up Skype TC on a PC that has got a internet connection, with a microphone and a speaker

Option one is sound like easy and more possible.  I check Dr. Elizabeth’s mobile phone,  has got a mobile that was so simple and maybe for making and taking the call, and did not have any option for connection to a speaker or even built-in hand free speaker.  My phone would not fit her sim-card since I use a new kind which call a micro sim-card.  So, we need to go to second option.  

Dr. Elizabeth was borrowing the key for the Diabetic Ward where she use the internet after her work as we would use for the PATS Training.   I found there were two computers set with internet connection and they seem working well. I found there were no microphone and speaker in the room.  Next option is using my laptop that I brought with me.  So, I turned it on connect with the internet and then Skype call with Piyapong who was still working in the office.  I was able to connect to Piyapong and the quality of sound and we were talking okay.  That also was the first time that Piyapong talked to Dr. Elizabeth.  After 5 minutes, I feel that the Skype call would work well and good enough for the teleconference next day.  Dr. Elizabeth said that we can use the connection in the Medical Superintendent’s Office, but she did not know if fast enough.  It happen to be that the Diabetic Ward is belong to the Taiwanese Hospital who came share the hospital for their mission.  And they have got better internet connection. 

There is also the other concern is the speakers of the laptop is too soft, and would not good enough to hear in a big group of people.  It was late when were thinking of where can we get the speaker to connect to my laptop.  Dr. Elizabeth suggested the shop would be closed, but we could go to downtown tomorrow early morning and I can help her get the speaker that we could use.   That was sound the possible plan to both of us.  

The last session of the day was I showed Dr. Elizabeth PATS Test Database and how to add and manage GIPAP patients, and have her get familiar of the application.   We found that it was 9pm and have not eat dinner, so I invite Dr. Elizabeth to have dinner with me at the hotel since I found it has very good from dinner last night. She agree and then she called a taxi and made to the hotel restaurant, before it closed.     

The Filipinos chef that I talked at lunch time who thought that I came from Philippines, was looking for me, so asked us to order only the entree and then he gave us a big huge compliment seafood plate that enough to fill us up.  After the dinner, Dr. Elizabeth was reading the MOU that I print out and brought along and I explained her the criteria and regulation.  She understood and agree and signed it.  That was the first day mission and have been accomplished.  Dr. Elizabeth and I were having a good talk and I learn more of the hospital and patients situation.  She said that her husband is an Orthopedic doctor, went oversea for a training course. Unfortunately, he husband will come back on the day after I left, otherwise would have met.   It was almost midnight when Dr. Elizabeth caught a taxi home, say that her son must be in bed already.  

During the night, I wrote an E-mail report to Danielle and said that first day went well and told her what was the plane for the second day.  Danielle was calling me in early morning to discuss with the plan for the Skype teleconference.  It was a challenge about the time difference.  The meeting time would be 10pm in Honiara, 4pm in Seattle, but it was 1am in Parish where the Axios lady work.   Danielle said that the Axios lady agree to take the late night call since she has no other choice.  

I skipped breakfast just to get good sleep in since I was working on helping another patient who had just found a mutation to the 2nd line treatment that possible resistant to the 3rd line medicine.  Piyapong helped scan the document and send me so I able to write to Pat since she met this patient in one of the meeting and gave her a word that she would help her if she needs.  Dr. Elizabeth came pick me up on a taxi at in front of the hotel at 8am and then head downtown to a computer shop.  She has got a pair of a good quality speakers which can plug into USB drive.  We decided to take the bus, which is just a mini van where most of people use for traveling around.  

We arrived at the hospital at 9:30am and went to the Pharmacy Department to remind the pharmacists who involve in the program to join the teleconference and tell them where would it be.  We went directly to Medical Superintendent’s Office, and explained that we need to use his room for the teleconference since he has got the internet connection.  

“The Director was calling for immediately meeting at 10am” Dr. Rooney was telling us that the director of the hospital was calling for immediately meeting.

There was a group of important visitors to the country and the Government wanted the hospital to be standing by in case of emergency, and Dr. Elizabeth need to escort.  The meeting was suppose to be at 10am, same time as we had.  Dr. Elizabeth insisted that she would not go there unless we finished this teleconference.  Fortunately, so Dr. Rooney agree and would stay for the teleconference as well.  While we were waiting for people to come into the room, I was setting up the laptop and speakers on Medical Superintendent’s desk, and connect to the internet.  I was asking Danielle and the Axios lady if I can test the Skype call.  The voice was bit chuckle while testing and I was not really sure that we may need to move to the Diabetic Ward, but people must be working around… not sure if we all can fit in that place.  While we were waiting for one more person to join the conference, a guy shown up and talked to Dr. Rooney said that he need a computer connection for the meeting with the Director.  Dr. Rooney got down his knee and then pulled out a wire from his PC under his table and gave to the guy.  Suddenly the internet connection was cut off and that made me so panic.  My laptop was connecting directly to the internet cable, so I am sure that it was nothing about the wire Dr. Rooney just pulled out.  I checked at the cable and found that the plug was loosen and I put it back and then internet came back on … Phewww… 

So, everyone we need were there, 6 of theme, 3 doctors and 3 pharmacists,  and we were able to start the Skype teleconference, 5 mins behind the schedule.   And unbelievable that the connection and sound quality were so great and not even one chuckle during the 40 minuets teleconference.   The Axios lady was able to explain the process and talked to the people who would get involve of importing the medicine, store and dispenses. The Procurement Manager said that the Government would not charge for tax and less paper work for importing the donation medicine in the country. So, that was sound better and make Axios and us less worried.  Everyone were able to provide answers to the questions from Axios until all clear.  The Axios lady said that she was happy and everyone proved that they can handle GIPAP in the hospital. She was going to pass this to the person who look after for the paper work and then import process should be start soon.  The final comment from Dr. Rooney was the appreciation words that he express to the Axios lady and Danielle to their support.  My heart was jumping up and down inside that finally we made the teleconference to be happened.  Dr. Elizabeth talked to the group again of how important would this program means to their patients and Dr. Rooney was so overwhelmed by knowing the medicine would cost. Dr. Elizabeth said that the teleconference was amazing and it was the first time ever that the teleconference was setting up in the hospital.  She hopes to have more in future.   

I feel so release that the most difficult mission has passed on the second day.  Dr. Elizabeth asked to leave for the meeting with Dr. Rooney and said that she might call after her work in the clinic in the evening.  I walked back to the hotel and had lunch and took a good nape.  Dr. Elizabeth called in the evening said that she will go home early since he missed seeing her son last night.  She told me that she had called one of the patients to come see me at the hospital on the next day and asked one of her staffs who a relative of the second patient to get patient since he lives in the countryside,

I wrote the second report E-mail to Danielle and told her how the day went, and dropped Pat a quick note that all things we need for the GIPAP set up have been done.  No surprise that they both were so happy and including Dr. Elizabeth.  

I walked to the hospital for third day and this time even faster.  I made it to the Diabetic Ward where Dr. Elizabeth asked me to meet up at 10am.  She suggested that it was more quiet that we can talk.  Dr. Elizabeth came right on time but I did not see other two patients.  She said that one patient lives in the city and his name is Ricky.  And the other guy name Bonnie lives outside of town and she was not sure if the message reach the patient.  It was a quiet Saturday morning and no one were there.  While we were talking and waiting, a telephone in the Diabetic Ward range.  Dr. Elizabeth answered the call and found that it was a wrong call to the other Department.  She just happened to remember the voice was a nurse from the Medical Ward where she works, so asked to talk to a nurse who is a relative to Bonnie.  

“I already called him and he said he will come… but I still didn’t see him around… Oh wait.. here he just walked it” The nurse on the other side of the phone said.   

This was amazing coincident that Bonnie was supposed to come see Dr. Elizabeth at the Diabetic Ward but gone to the Medical Ward as he used to go for seeing her.  Bonnie is a young man in the age of 27 years old.  He was quiet, hardly say anything.  Dr. Elizabeth said that he was one of two brothers in his family who has got education and got a job, but later asked to leave since he has diagnosis CML.  In some of the countries this would called discriminated, but in a normal thing in developing countries.   I started to explain Bonnie of the GIPAP and went through the GIPAP Consent to make sure the understood it well before he signed his name.  I explained to Dr. Elizabeth while I was doing so she can help patients in later cases.  Ricky was arrived while we had not finished with Bonnie, so I asked him to stay in room with the door closed, so in case of Bonnie want to keep his personal story private.   

We asked Ricky to swap when we done Bonnie.  Ricky is a little bit older than me, works as a lawyer for the Government Court.  To work for the Government, Ricky does not receive any special or priority on the treatment.  He would get the same medicine that other people gets.  Dr. Elizabeth once said that one day there was a high range Government Office has got a stroke and need the medical care immediately.  The guy refused to stay in the hospital ward since there were no private room and he could not stand to share the room with other patients.  However, the guy stayed over on a hospital bed in the share room ward before escalate to on a person flight to the better private hospital in Brisbane.  

“In this hospital, everyone are equal and we treat everyone with the same medicine, no matter how rich or poor” Dr. Elizabeth once said. She hope the Government would have put more money on the hospital, medicine and renovate. 

Ricky able to speak English well and he expressed more of his feeling and we can see that he was so happy and appreciated.  Once we done with the Consent and Financial Declaration Form signing, I have Bonnie to come join us in the room.  Dr. Elizabeth were talking to them both in Pidgin Language to make sure that they both understand the program well.  I show them the photos of MaxSmlies, meeting and activities.  I believe Ricky would be the best leader to the Solomon Islander CML Supporting Group.  Bonnie is also able to speak English and he know some of the IT.  He was too shy to speak English, but he could understand me well.  Bonnie was diagnosis CML last year, while Ricky has diagnosis and has been on Hydrea for more than two years.  We are a bit concern of Ricky, but he still doing well and in good spirit.  We do hope to get the medicine for him soon.  I gave the gift I bought from Thailand and together with gifts from MaxSmiles.  I do hope them both get the medicine and then able to help and support other patients as well.  I had a great time taking with all of them.  

After Bonnie and Ricky left, Dr. Elizabeth decided to take a brake and think would be better to go to downtown for lunch.  We took a bus there and found that all of the food shops were closed due to the weekend.   We kept walking until reach one of the cafe that own buy a patient of Dr. Elizabeth.  I was a nice place located by the sea.  We had some sandwiches with a very refreshing fruit shake.  That was the time that we were so relaxing since I got there, and kept talking on what we have done in three days.  Dr. Elizabeth said that she did not have much free time and I told her that she should take a break and bring her family here on the weekend.  That was so good and we were enjoying that afternoon. I took it a reward for our three days hard working, and I like it better rather go for sight seeing. 

We went back to the hospital and Dr. Elizabeth was taking me to the Medical Ward where he office and scanner is.   We unexpectedly found a young man was laying on the floor right in front of the door that we were walking in.  Dr. Elizabeth grabbed the guy wrist to quickly checked of his pause.  She called the nurse to bring the wheelchair to bring this guy back to his bed.  She said that the guy has diagnosis Hepatitis-B and there were no medicine for him in the hospital.  Unfortunately, the disease has caused his liver cirrhosis.  It was sad to hear that he was going to die soon and his mother decided to bring him home.  The young man was walking after his wife that came out to fill up drinking water from the water tank outside the ward.   I help the nurse to carry the guy up and he was huge when he stood up. He look like hardly have a power to walk.  I feel so sad that the disease that we have the medicine in my country, but there were no medicine in this country…

Beside the tragedy, I found that the hospital was lively and crowed with lives.  It was a Saturday afternoon when I heard a group of choirs sang a beautiful Christian songs in the ward.  It was so so nice to hear.  Dr. Elizabeth says it is normal for Saturday and Sunday when the Christian people come visiting patients in the hospital.  I saw two groups of them and differences ward sang so so loud and then pray.. Maybe this the thing, just adding up the missing medicine to those patients. 

Among all the warm and crowded hospital ward, I found a moment that I connect with someone who I have never met.  I saw a guy was waiting at the counter of Medical Ward, “Hi! Are you waiting to see a Doctor?” I said to this young man.   “No, It’s my mother. She has got a heart problem.” He replied.   “Oh, so you made some a big problem and caused your mom to get heart attack ” I said while pointing my figure to him.  “No No No!” He said “My brother did that, not me”.   I laughed and said “So, you are the good son then”  I wish his mother would feel better and asked him to take good care of his mother.  “I will” He replied with a smile.  That was a short conversation just enough created a quick friendship… 

Dr. Elizabeth scanned all the documents for Bonnie and Ricky including Chromosome Result and her MOU.  Then we went back to Diabetic Ward for the internet.  I had Dr. Elizabeth worked on filling up GIPAP application for those two and then sending the E-mail with documents to Danielle.   After she hit “Send” button, I feel that all my missions here were completed.  While we was leaving the room, I saw Dr. Elizabeth was hold three bags together including MaxSmiles bag which became her favorite bag.  I stop and took her a photo with all that bags and said that I remember her as a “baggy doctor”…  and she laughed … ^^~

I invite Dr. Elizabeth again for dinner to celebrate our success work on setting up GIPAP in the hospital and in Solomon Islands.   I causally said to her that this is a historical that everyone would remember that she is the first GIPAP physician who brought the program into the country for her people.  We both feel so release that all went so well and look forward to see the medicine come in the country.  We started with two and hope there are going to be more people to get help..  

In the morning when I was leaving, Dr. Elizabeth came with her only son, Desmond or Des as she calls him.  I knew that Little Des must had been complained that I was making her mother work till late at night.  I feel that Dr. Elizabeth spends most of the day at the clinics for those patients without getting tried.  I am really look up to her… 

“Mama, Yu wok tu hat oltiam” means “Mommy,  You work too hard, always” Des always says out loud when someone call her on mobile phone while she was at home.  I remember that was screaming when I talked to her on the phone at first night.  Anyway, he was nice to me and greet me.  That was a short meet before my transport came to pick me up.  I was sad to leave and wish I could spend more time with them both.  I was feel like I did not want to leave and thought I would change my flight and stay longer.  I looked on my passport and found that they allow me to stay only five days and that was the day I was taking off. 

On the Solomon Fly Airplane, I sat next to the windows where a Solomon Islander young man next to me and the other white guy who said that he is from England live and work in Australia and Solomon Islands for his business.  The British guy kept talking to the Solomon Islander guy of his business since he just heard that he young man has got a scholarship to study for his Master Degree in Business and Marketing.  He went visit home during a school break.  I took a nape since I was not interested on what the British guy keep talking and talking.  They were still talking when the plane was about to landing.  When the belt sign was off and the the British guy was rushing to get off the plane.  I smiles to the young Solomon Islander guy and ask “Would you go back to work in your country after you graduated?”.   He smiles and replied “Yes, I will go back for sure”…  I hope..

After I got back to Thailand, Danielle and I were working on the a summery of the trip to report back to Novartis, and we have got a very positive reply from them and they like the follow up report.  After all required things have done, the process of importing medicine has started and the medicine should be ready on their ways to the hospital. 

The latest news, Bonnie and Ricky have been approved in GIPAP, and I am included in the New Approval E-mail, which mean I am now covering Solomon Islands.  I feel honor to that and I will do the best to provide my support to Dr. Elizabeth and the patients.  I am waiting for the news that both of them starting the medicine.  I want to meet them again and hope to help them set up the Patient Supporting Group like I helped with the MaxSmiles, Max’s Vie and then Cambodia.  I get connected with Dr. Elizabeth on Facebook and we were able to chat and then discus on a new GIST patient case.  This is the first GIST that she found and hope she could submit the GIPAP application for this patient, too.  It sound like we are getting more applications.  I also get in touch with Bonnie and Ricky and hope that we will continue be in touch.  I have so many plans for both of them already, but now only wait for them to start the medicine. 

I often wonders, from time to time, how Max, the little boy with a great courage can brings this to the help people on the side of the world. This is truly amazing.  No matter what the color of the skin are they, what the language they speak.  Everyone has right to survive and live well in this beautiful world.  

Thank you very much to Pat for given me this opportunity and to Novartis who is generous to expand the life saving program to the low developing countries.  Thanks to Danielle for your hard working and working closely with me to support this mission. Thanks to my team here who covering my work while I was away.  I think I am ready for the next mission and will be standing by if there is any… 

“Tenkyu tumas long ridim” says in Pidgin which means 

“Thank you very much for reading”.


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