I was just part of a very cool adventure and I’d love to tell you about it…
So firstly, the adventure was on a YWAM medical ship in Papua New Guinea. This ship operates as a licensed medical provider in PNG, reaching extremely isolated villages, and the ship is run totally by YWAM volunteers. My mum is a nurse and wanted to go and help out on this ship, and I decided to tag along with my parents for the experience. This outreach was to the Western and Gulf provinces, and two days in central (Hula).
I was put in a community engagement team. The idea is that these teams are out connecting with kids in villages, playing games, providing some education about sanitation and water and health and different diseases, and getting to know what each village is about by spending time with people while the medical volunteers run clinics. The health clinics included immunisations, dental work, optometry, testing for tuberculosis, check ups for pregnant women, family planning and probably more stuff I don’t know about since I’m not medical.
There were some really cool ways that art played a big part of the trip from a community engagement point of view and here’s a few:
1. Art for non-verbal cross-cultural engagement.
This one was a basic one: we had chalk, and most villages had some form of bark or timber flooring, and some villages had a school room of a sort. So our team would get down on the floor with kids and take turns drawing symbols and images together. For e.g. We drew basic triangle roofed houses, and kids would watch that and then draw their own version: a house on stilts up off the mud. We mirrored each others drawings and used humour to build on them. I noticed this process brought about something we talk about in the mental health field: a sense of mutual enjoyment and delight that is a shared experience, and good way to build rapport. We didn’t really need to speak, because our drawings and the experience of laughing together and sharing in this way was special and it was enough.