“I always sat and watched the nurses in my village check sick patients, diagnose their illness and prescribe medicine to them, which attracted me to become just like them,” reflects Valamb.
Coming from a close family of four, Valamb said she was always encouraged to follow her dreams, believing “I can be whatever I want, and everything happens for a reason, so if I want to be a nurse, I can be a nurse.”
In 1982, Valamb realised her long-held dream, graduating from St Gerard’s School of Nursing in Veifa’a, Central Province, with a certificate in nursing. A year later, she became a registered nurse at Port Moresby General Hospital, working there for 11 years before applying for the sister-in-charge position at Sogeri Health Centre.
She is assisted by four other community health workers at Sogeri Health Centre and covers a population of almost 5,300 people from 62 scattered villages in 10 wards.
The now 54-year-old from Yongai in Goilala District loves what she does and enjoys working with people. Some of her most memorable experiences have been while out in the bush visiting communities during routine maternal child health patrols.
“Sometimes when I’m on patrol, villagers tell me I’m too old to be patrolling the bush when I should be with my family relaxing back at home,” she said.
“I usually tell them, this is what I am trained to do, and I am here to do my job and help those who need medical assistance, especially in rural areas.”
In July 2018, Valamb and nine other health workers attended a Marie Stopes family planning training funded by the Australian government. She has since been practicing simple family planning procedures under supervision, with two more assessments to be completed before she is certified to perform all procedures on her own.
“Through Australian government funding, I am able to attend trainings to upskill my knowledge as a nursing officer, a midwife, sister-in-charge and, soon to be, certified family planning officer here at the health centre,” she said.
“I love what I do and it was through my work that I had the opportunity to attend the annual nurse’s symposium in 2015 to 2018 funded through the Kokoda Initiative.”
After attending a two-day training in late February at the Central Provincial Office in Port Moresby, Valamb and her team will soon be carrying out the fourth round of polio vaccinations to Kokoda Track communities following last year’s outbreak in Papua New Guinea.
“It was necessary that we attended this training to understand how to do social mobilisation and implementation with our teams, bearing in mind that we eliminate polio for good,” she said.
(Sogeri Health Centre’s sister-in-charge, Cecilia Valamb, gets ready to carry out the fourth round of polio vaccinations in Sogeri communities)