“We see the significance of the village health volunteers (VHV) in the community. There won't be anyone to provide the communities with this support if we all leave the VHV job. Most pregnant mothers experience labour difficulties. Many children under two years of age die in communities.” Roselyn says.
Roselyn Pinoko is from a mixed parentage of New Ireland and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. During the civil war, she moved to New Ireland to complete her high school. Now, she lives in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
“Yes, I am a mother. I have five children. All my children are attending school and I struggle to pay school fees. Though I face these challenges, I am still committed to helping my community.” says Roselyn.
She is 47 years of age and has been a VHV for thirteen years.
“There were six of us, this in the Pariro ward. Most of our colleagues left when they learned that VHV is an unpaid voluntary job. Nowadays, it's only me and Bernadine covering all the four wards.” Roselyn adds.
Roselyn and her sister, Bernardine Mongko have been serving as World Vision’s VHVs since the Caring for Nutrition project's inception in 2017. The sisters have been instrumental in helping to reduce the high maternal and birth deaths in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
In PNG, five in ten children under five are malnourished. Almost half of the women deliver their babies outside a proper health facility. Low access to health services, low access to safe water and improved sanitation, improper infant and young child feeding practices, and insufficient dietary diversity are the contributing factors to the high prevalence rate of this issue.
VHVs like Roselyn and Bernardine are humanitarian volunteer workers acting as first responders during emergencies in the community. They conducted their household visits throughout the COVID pandemic. The VHVs have been encouraging parents to immunize their children and mothers to go for antenatal checks.
Roselyn and Bernadine are skilled in making patient referrals. They have been the advocates of the 'Healthy Island' concept since its establishment.
“We provide counselling to pregnant mothers. At times we refer them to the clinics for checks, and VHVs, we advise the people in the community on how to cook balanced meals and how to feed babies properly to prevent malnutrition", adds Bernadine.
Bernadine and Roselyn are attached to the Caring for Nutrition project which has ceased implementation; however, the duo pledged to continue helping women in their communities.