Central Queensland News - - READ - WORDS: ALLY MARTELL

Friends Ken Mul­li­gan and Daryl Holmes had a sim­ple wish – they wanted to make a dif­fer­ence in the world. When the for­mer farmer who gets sea­sick and the den­tist first joined forces eight years ago, nei­ther imag­ined their col­lab­o­ra­tion would take them to Buck­ing­ham Palace to re­ceive OBEs for ser­vices in Pa­pua New Guinea.

Ken, a re­tired New South Wales wheat grower and sheep gra­zier, and Daryl, a young den­tist, first met in Townsville in the 1990s. Along with their wives and fam­i­lies, they were de­ter­mined to use their knowl­edge and skill to give back to oth­ers in need.

It wasn’t un­til 2010 that the op­por­tu­nity to ac­quire a 35-year-old fish­ing ves­sel with an on­board den­tistry clinic and ca­pac­ity to ac­com­mo­date up to 50 vol­un­teers pre­sented it­self. Both knew it was time to col­lab­o­rate.

“It struck me, straight to the heart,” Daryl re­calls. “With a co­or­di­nated pro­gram of­fer­ing med­i­cal, den­tal and op­ti­cal ser­vices – plus ca­pac­ity build­ing – we could make a big dif­fer­ence to PNG.”

Youth With A Mis­sion Med­i­cal Ships was born. Its pur­pose is to pro­vide health­care and train­ing to ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties in Pa­pua New Guinea.

“I worked with Ken and helped with plan­ning and strat­egy,” says Daryl, who is now man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of 1300SMILES. “Our first boat was an old Ja­panese fish­ing boat. It was a good start but it was hard work.”

Af­ter a suc­cess­ful five-month fundrais­ing cam­paign in 2014, YWAM Med­i­cal Ships pur­chased the MV YWAM, a 15-year-old for­mer cruise ship.

“Our sec­ond boat is a 60-me­tre cata­ma­ran, four times the size and much more sta­ble. It’s fit­ted with den­tal surg­eries, day pro­ce­dure unit, op­tom­e­try clinic, lab­o­ra­tory and ac­com­mo­da­tion for 100 peo­ple.”

In the 2017 fi­nan­cial year YWAM Med­i­cal Ships treated 28,632 PNG na­tion­als and gave 5545 health ed­u­ca­tion ses­sions to 149,723 peo­ple.

While the ship’s sta­tis­tics for treat­ments and pro­ce­dures are im­pres­sive, Ken be­lieves ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing are the keys to em­pow­er­ing com­mu­ni­ties.

“We are help­ing to build healthy vil­lages one by one,” he says. “In turn that will help build a healthy na­tion – it’s a holis­tic ap­proach.

“Our goal is not to set up par­al­lel ser­vices or re­place ex­ist­ing ser­vices but to build ca­pac­ity. More than 25 per cent of vol­un­teers on the ship are PNG na­tion­als and each of the vil­lages we visit has lo­cal health­care work­ers.”

In Oc­to­ber, Ken and Daryl were pre­sented with the Of­fi­cer of the Most Ex­cel­lent Or­der of the Bri­tish Em­pire (OBE) by Her Royal High­ness Princess Anne.

Ken re­ceived the award for his ser­vices to the com­mu­nity and ru­ral health­care through YWAM Med­i­cal Ships, and Daryl was recog­nised for ser­vices to health through sup­port for YWAM Med­i­cal Ships.

Both agree that it’s not just the peo­ple of PNG who ben­e­fit from YWAM Med­i­cal Ships. “Our vol­un­teers gain a lot from their ex­pe­ri­ences,” Ken says. “We have peo­ple from all walks of life and 30 dif­fer­ent coun­tries whose vol­un­teer­ing spirit comes from the heart.”

Daryl en­cour­ages his own team of den­tists and den­tal as­sis­tants to vol­un­teer.

“It’s life-chang­ing work – what you put in you get back.

“I still hold the record with 132 ex­trac­tions in one day,” he laughs.

“It’s sad re­ally to think how many peo­ple in PNG live with chronic toothache. How­ever, each time we re­visit a vil­lage we no­tice that the health of vil­lagers is im­prov­ing be­cause of the ed­u­ca­tion and equip­ment we pro­vide.”

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