This month I ended my volunteer stint with Pacific Society of Reproductive Health (“PSRH”) with one final conference in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. I’ve volunteered for PSRH since 2014.
I have an interest in sexual/reproductive health particularly in relation to gender/power dynamics and gender-based violence (criminal justice/health system interface).
Since post-contact (colonisation and rise of religion[s]), healthy discussions around sexuality/reproductive health is not normal practice, let alone having any conversation about it in a family context. I think ‘how’ to have these conversations constructively have been mystified by the weird mutation of colonisation/religion/indigenous culture. I like exploring these conversations with health practitioners because, like me, they are the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff (or sometimes, the person stopping someone tipping over the edge). Anyway, the conference itself obviously focuses on more clinical perspectives as well as some social/cultural perspectives when considering family planning.
The conference was in Port Moresby and covers your standard conferencing aims – professional development, continuing medical education and building/disseminating research. This is obviously with a focus on sexual and reproductive health from a Pacific perspective, by and for Pacific practitioners.
So, the conference; it was a time.
The week before the conference, several issues arose that needed dealing with that I tried to manage during my work breaks (alongside my full-time job). I support PSRH in the lead up to, during and after conferences with admin/ project-work/ funding apps/ conference admin etc. Being a jane-of-all trades isn’t necessarily a good thing because it’s an excuse for people to come to you with the expectation that you know where everything is, what is happening and how to do the tasks needed. Tasks included booking flights/accommodation for people from around the Pacific (Jane-trade #1: travel agent – note, I don’t have access to deals or am qualified in this space), preparing executive documents for the Board meetings, Biennial General meeting and others (Jane-trade #2: over-glorified admin extraordinaire), invoicing, receipting & money counting (Jane-trade #3: accounts admin). Despite the crises, a week prior to leaving, we managed to start the conference without too many issues.
I assisted with the 2017 conference and the main things I wanted to improve on were:
- My delegation skills (I was so bad at this – I don’t like giving out tasks to a team I barely know);
- Efficient and effective communication (leadership style);
- Accounting and financial skills.
Anyway, I messed up and booked an extra day at the end of the conference and most of our crew left. So in the lead-up, I tried to plan a “learning day” by checking out the local market and meeting up with some mutuals I met during the conference.
A photo-essay below of my time in Papua New Guinea – the last hurrah.