Ralph Lawton received his doctorate in linguistics from ANU July 16th 2013! He can now focus on completing his bilingual Kiriwinan dictionary.

Rev. Dr. Ralph Lawton, with the late great Margaret Lawton, his daughter Jenni and Grandson Liam Lawton. 16th July, 2013.We are all so proud of him.

Thank you Toks for letting us know the parcel had arrived, two months after sending. We are looking at using international couriers instead of normal Australia Post options. The Parcel delivery is critical. Thanks again to Diana and Kylie Adams who collated and packed the kits. We have started on the next lot of birthing kits and have been informed that the courier service will only take 2 to 4 business days. I will let you know…

Yippee, another box of kits being sent today.

Dinah (our main contact) is in Bwaruwada at the moment so the Box is being sent to the Pastor’s wife Ruth.

Our VBA’s are all receiving a belated Christmas present of a polar jumper.

We are nearly ready to send the next batch of 50 kits thanks to the assistance of Diana and Kylie Adams who have been working diligently to complete the packing of the kits. Thanks so much Diana and Kylie for all your support.

We are pleased that after a fair bit of negotiating we have appointed Dinah (David) Lepani as the main administrator of the VBA’s on Kiriwina. Congratulations Dina.

The September batch of birthing kits were received by Dina (The Caring for Kiriwina coordinator) on Kiriwina just in time, the Village Health Volunteers only had two birthing kits left! Now we know the high cost of transportion we need to hear from companies out there who travel to Port Morseby regularly and could transport a few of these very small light birthing kits approx. 15 x 10 cm for our charity.

We will start putting the next 50 kits together to transport December/January, we will also include in this package some jumpers for the VHV’s as a Christmas bonus. We also need to thank Toks Bwaina, our Kiriwinan contact in Port Moresby.


We have sent another 50 birthing kits up to Kiriwina by Australia Post. The cost of posting these essential humanitarian items is HUGE. If anyone is travelling to Port Moresby from Sydney and can fit some kits into their luggage, please let us know. We would get the kits to you and a Kiriwinan will pick them up from the airport and deliver them to Kiriwina.

The VHV’s asked for aspirin and panadol, which have been sent. We have also charged up the digicel account so that we can keep in constant contact with the VHV’s via the mobile we sent up for this specific use (Kindly donated by Jeff Keating).

Thank you to Kylie Adams and Liam and Lila Lawton for donating their time to make the kits up.

Some Kiriwians have not been able to obtain entrance into further education in Australia due to the lack of a Birth Certificate/Record. We have decided to place a Birth Certificate form in each birthing kit so that the birth will be formally recorded.

Background & Statement of development needs

Development context

The island of Kiriwina is the largest in a group of islands off the east coast of Papua New Guinea referred to as the Trobriand Islands.  The islands are flat coral atolls with a hot and humid climate year round.  The main government settlement is the town of Losuia, which includes a hospital, a school, a government office, and a small wharf where all supplies to the island arrive by boat.  Losuia has electricity provided by a diesel powered generator, with most of the houses in the township connected.  The island has a WW2 airstrip which allows commercial flights from the mainland several times a week.  There is a mobile phone service available on the island, making direct communication with the mainland relatively good.

Overall, the population of Kiriwina is around 25,000.  Most of the inhabitants live in traditional settlements of between 200 to 500 people, with no running water, electricity or sanitary facilities.  Toilets are basic communal pit toilets located in the bush in designated areas surrounding the village.  Housing is built of bush materials, sometimes incorporating tin roofs, which are highly sought after because of their relative durability and ability to harvest rainwater.  However rainwater tanks are few and far between and safe potable water is always an issue.  Personal hygiene is difficult.

Kiriwinans are mostly subsistence gardeners and rely on produce grown from their own gardens to survive, yams and taro being the main food source.  Sweet potato, bananas, leafy greens and beans are also grown, and occasionally chicken or fish provide protein.  However population pressure and poor growing conditions as a result of droughts often result in severe food shortages. Fishing provides some coastal men with a cash income, and weekend markets take place for sale and exchange of food, betel nuts and other essentials.  There are several trade stores on the island providing western merchandise and staple items such as kerosene, rice, tobacco, cloth as well as other western items.  Cash is provided mainly from family members who have left the island and work elsewhere in the country.

Traditional belief of spirits, sorcery and the practice of magic still exist, sometimes impacting on the health of pregnant women, young mothers and infants.  Pregnant women mostly give birth in the village instead of going to the hospital.  In the absence of western medicine, and sometimes by choice, traditional use of plants and herbs as medicine still takes place.  The small hospital at Losuia is supplemented by poorly stocked medical posts within walking distance of most villages, but the lack of adequate medical care is an ongoing problem.  Infant mortality in particular is high.

Development needs

The particular development needs Caring for Kiriwina focusses on are the health of pregnant women, women in childbirth, newborn infants and children.