Back to basics a lesson in realism
THERE'S nothing like living on a remote island in the Pacific if you want to broaden your horizons.
After 12 years studying and working in his home town, that's exactly what Lismore accountant Richard Rummery realised he needed.
Richard Rummery, 30, is halfway through a 12 month Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development (AYAD) program in the Solomon Islands.
He's working in a remote community on the island of Malaita,
using his accountancy skills to develop a financial reporting system at the island's only hospital.
It's been an eye-opening experience for Mr Rummery, who studied accounting at Southern Cross University and until his Solomons sojourn, had spent his entire working life in Lismore.
"I never really ventured out of
my comfort zone too much … it's as much a personal growth thing as an aspiration to do good," Mr Rummery said.
"I was fairly ignorant about the Solomon Islands before I came."
"When I got here it was totally abstract to anything I'd seen before. It's a phenomenally beautiful country, physically beautiful, and people are helpful and kind."
Malaita is the most populous island in the archipelago, but has little development to show for it.
"It has no capital investment, no industry, it's simply a collection of villages with residents living a traditional agrarian lifestyle," Mr Rummery said.
The only hospital in the village of Auki provides 40 beds and four GPs for a total population of 150,000 - some of whom live two days walk away.
There'are no specialists or sur- geons, so if there's anything that needs doing urgently (like a common birth complication or machete injury) it can only be taken care of by the GPs.
Travel on the island is limited to old "banana boats" with minimal horsepower, or hiking. To get to the main island of Guadalcanal is a four-hour boat ride or a rather scary flight in a light plane.
Mr Rummery has lost 10kg while living on rice, fish and vegetables.
"I'm hanging for a bit of cheese and a good coffee," he confessed.
But most importantly, it's been an inspirational and invaluable experience for him.
For more information on the AYAD program go to ayad.com.au.