“Never judge, always love, rise to every challenge and be grateful for everything. These are the earliest lessons I learnt from my mother. As a child, I never wanted to do anything else besides nursing and I still maintain that it’s the best job in the world. I used to work in the South Infirmary in Cork and I loved it but now I work overseas with Medecins Sans Frontieres and I love this too.
I spent the bones of the past year with the Huli tribe in a remote and inaccessible part of Papua New Guinea, a country that is home to hundreds of distinct tribes, many of which have only recently been in contact with the outside world.
I leave for Afghanistan in a few days but I am actually sitting here thinking back to the last week I spent in Papua New Guinea. It was a dramatic week. An accusation of sorcery sparked violence in the local community. The man at the centre of the allegation was attacked and seriously injured by a group of men yielding machetes. The police brought him to the hospital and we rushed him straight to the theatre. When he survived the surgery, the community understood this as a sure sign that he was a witch. He was now a dead man walking and we had to place him in a secure room. I contacted an agency that has a mandate to relocate people in Papua New Guinea who have been accused of sorcery and a plan was put in place to get him out. He had to leave everything behind; his crops, his family, his tribe, his life. He was a kind and gentle man. When we were saying farewell, he asked me if I would someday share his story.”