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Oil Search Foundation scholarships are building PNG’s next generation of leaders.

two scholarship recipients holding their awards in graduation garments

Childbirth can be a challenge in many parts of rural Papua New Guinea. Only last year, a report by ChildFund Australia indicated that about half of PNG mums-to-be have no choice but to go into labour at home – a situation which leaves them 35 times more likely than Australian women to die during or after the process.

It’s statistics like these that really bring home just how important a trained midwife can be.

And it is people like Stanley Lemb and Tracey Vege that give us hope for the future.

They are two of 14 inaugural recipients of Oil the Search Foundation scholarships in 2018. The two graduated today with their Bachelor of Midwifery from the Lutheran School of Nursing in Madang– and it seems safe to say that they got their qualifications in style.

Stanley works at the Karinja Subhealth Centre (Hela province). The health worker has finished in the year top of his class and has also been recognised for his leadership on campus with the school’s Leadership Award. Tracey, who also did academically and socially well, was recognised with one of the two Good Citizenship Awards given out during the Midwifery Badging Ceremony at Lutheran School of Nursing on March 8th.

“I have learnt a lot of essential skills throughout my Bachelor of Midwifery Program at Lutheran School of Nursing. In the past, I was not able to assist a lot of mothers who had complications as I was not equipped with essential skills and knowledge to do so effectively."
- Stanley Lemb OSF Scholarship Recipient

“For example, as a general nurse, I was not able to fully assist mothers to remove their retained placenta after they deliver their babies at home and come in to the health facility, hence I used to refer them to bigger hospitals. One mother lost her life while travelling. Now that I am a midwife, I am trained to effectively prevent such situations, and possibly save lives”, Stanley continued.

While Stanley can take all the credit for his academic success, his leadership award may owe something to OSF’s scholarship program, which includes leadership training followed by a leadership assignment.

Together with his fellow scholarship recipient (and now fellow midwife) Tracey Vege, the two were asked to identify a community issue and find a way to address it, as part of their leadership assignment.

The pair decided that waste management needed to be addressed in and around their campus, and promptly organised a major clean-up. They also hosted a successful awareness session with peers, and with the help of OSF, procured wheelie bins for their school’s dormitories, mess, and administration building.

“Before being an OSF scholarship recipient, I was not a self-confident public speaker, and I was not comfortable to lead and make a difference. I feel I have now gained these skills and I have set myself a goal help drive positive change"
- Tracey Vege OSF Scholarship Recipient
Scholarship recipient standing with 2 women

OSF scholarship recipient Tracey Vege aims to motivate 20 nursing officers to pursue midwifery studies

“After I graduate and return to Hela Province, I will be raising awareness about the importance of midwifery training, and I will be campaigning for nursing officers to go for midwifery studies. In the next 5 years, my aim is to motivate about 20 nursing officers to pursue these studies”, Tracey said.

Oil Search Foundation scholarships are building PNG’s next generation of leaders by helping to fund their tuition and associated living and academic costs, and by giving recipients the opportunity to enhance their leadership skills.

All recipients have a background in education or health, and or want one or both of those fields to be part of their future careers. They are willing to work in rural parts of Gulf, Southern Highlands and Hela provinces for at least two years after finishing their studies.