For Sister Anne Aku, a nurse in Hela Province, it not only was care for patients she provided. Her compassion extended to her fellow nursing colleagues.
Sr Aku has served the people of Hela as a nursing officer for 28 years. Completing Grade 10 from the then Tari High School and later obtaining a certificate in General Nursing from Goroka School of Nursing in 1992, she worked tirelessly to serve Wabia Health Centre, a facility run by the United Church Health Services.
Her humble beginnings to her passion to serve as a nursing officer saw her take on her first leadership role in 2017 as the Sister in charge of the Health Centre. At that time, the Health Centre was a level 2 facility. Under Sr Aku’s leadership and management, the facility was raised to level 3.
In her new role, she worked hard to maintain a strong partnership between the Hela Provincial Health Authority, Oil Search Foundation (OSF) and the United Church Health Services. This helped bring about significant changes to the health facility, such as building refurbishments and setting up a delivery room at the centre for antenatal women.
“I believe my ability to work well with partners and lead change for the Centre was the reason why I was recommended and sponsored by OSF to attend a Leadership and Management program. This opportunity boosted my confidence level and has broadened my knowledge,” said Sr Aku.
Since 2019, OSF has supported 10 women from Southern Highlands, Gulf and Hela to participate in a 6-month leadership and training program organised by Business Coalition for Women in partnership with WINGS Education PNG. The course focuses on integrity, accountability and transparency as essential leadership traits.
“Being a leader is not an easy job. Having to mentor more than 15 staff was a challenge for me, but I was able to prove my worth,” shared Sr Aku.
“In July this year, I was appointed as the Clinical Supervisor for Hela Region United Church Services, overseeing one health centre, four community health post and four aid posts. All this made possible through the extra boost I received from the program. I am grateful to OSF for giving me this great opportunity.”
OSF’s Scholarships and Leadership Manager, Karlyne Pukaikia, said: “Qualifications can determine one’s profession. But good leadership qualities pave the way for success.
“Sr Aku’s willingness to be a leader amidst different challenges enabled her to receive this support from OSF. With the knowledge and skills gained, we believe she will continue to deliver great results for the United Church Health Services, Hela Province and PNG.”
(OSF Scholarship and Leadership Program Manager, left, with six participants from Hela and Southern Highlands who were part of the women in leadership & management program in February)