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I'm a community health nurse, which often sees me working outside of hospitals. I headed off in December with my colleagues from Solomon Islands Red Cross to a youth camp in the highlands of Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
Dengue Fever, a painful and debilitating mosquito-borne disease, is the most rapidly spreading vector-borne disease in the world. A recent outbreak in Solomon Islands has affected more than 7000 people since October 2016.
One of the ways we are working to combat the disease is by educating the public about symptoms, spread, and treatment. With dengue being especially hard on children and young people, attending the youth camp to share information about the disease was the perfect place to be.
Getting to the camp was easier said than done. Heavy rainfall in the highlands district of Guadalcanal where the camp was being held made the journey very eventful!
The trip to camp took more than six hours by 4WD, followed by a 40-minute walk down the mountainside to the river, which we traversed by foot, carrying all our gear. Fortunately, the challenging road didn't stop people from coming. About 4000 people, both young and old, came to the camp. Some had walked for more than three days to get there!
Solomon Islands Red Cross dengue awareness volunteers presented at the camp, performing a brilliant skit about dengue signs and symptoms, treatment, and prevention. The next day the volunteers set up a dengue fever awareness tent, where attendees could come to ask questions and receive information.
As well as dengue education, the camp programme included education around health, ending gender-based violence, and lighter sessions such as learning to tie-dye sarongs.
Our volunteers worked tirelessly under difficult climatic and environmental conditions. Their enthusiasm and energy was infectious and they worked well in their teams to spread messages around dengue fever, while professionally representing Red Cross. I feel proud of every team member; their enthusiasm and sound knowledge base was exemplary.
We headed home on a 1.5-hour walk up the mountain, again carrying all our gear (including a large gazebo tent), and followed by another adventurous six-hour 4WD trip on very wet and muddy roads.
The number of people reached through this camp was incredible - and went a long way toward Solomon Island Red Cross' goal of educating children and adults about dengue fever, through their schools and communities.