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Solomon Islands Project


 Title:  The Motor Scooter accident

Location : Namomea Island, Tuvalu

Year : 2014

Namomea is located about 200 miles (400kms) north of Funafuti, the main atoll and capital of Tuvalu. Tuvalu is over 500 miles north of Fiji and 1,000 miles south of Majuro in the Marshall Islands. The country is made up of a number of small islands that have large distances of open ocean between them. Namomea is the most northerly island of the country and there are approximately 500 people living there. There is a health sister who runs a very small clinic.

 Wherever people are in the world they find access to drugs. In many countries it is alcohol, but there is also kava, bettel nut, cocoa leaves and many more. Only in recent times have we found out that it is possible to brew a potent alcoholic beverage from the sap of the coconut flower and, considering that coconut palms are everywhere it is suprizing that everywhere that has coconut palms don't make the drink. We're not about to tell anyone either. It is known as Toddy and can actually be made into a sweet non-alcoholic syrup as well.

So on Namomea and in Tuvalu generally, they like drinking Toddy. Namomea is a small flat atoll with a few sandy roads around the place. The favoured form of transport is the motor scooter - relatively cheap and economical and considering distances aren't far, there is no need to have anything bigger or more powerful.

The story we were told was that earlier that year, one pleasant evening a guy partook of just a little too much Toddy and decided to take a ride on his motor scooter and you can guess what happened, he crashed. And he broke his leg. So there he was, 200 miles across open ocean from the only hospital in the country at Funafuti. There is no emergency evacuation service, there are no helicopters in the country, there is no airstrip on the island, not that there are any small aircraft in the country either.

 The only means of transport to and from the island is via the ferry/supply ship that visits and resupplies the island every two weeks. I don't know how bad the break was or whether it required resetting or not.  However as the supply ship only only just left, the guy with the broken leg had to wait almost two weeks in significant pain until he could be taken to the only hospital.

So he was had to survive around 2 weeks no doubt in considerable pain before he could on a long and painful voyage to the hospital.

As they say - drinking and driving don't mix !

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