Dr. Suzanne Miller Daly (right) and husband Allan Daly (left) flank the Bishop of the United Church of the Solomon Islands.
Dr. Suzanne Miller Daly (COM ’96), along with her husband, Allan Daly, first visited the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific on a scuba diving trip in 2006. While there, they toured the local hospital that serves the 30,000 villagers of the Marovo Lagoon.
Seghe Hospital had no reliable source of electricity or running water, and the government believed that the hospital needed certain amenities before it would be worthy of receiving a doctor.
“Allan and I felt compelled to do something,” Dr. Daly said. “I did not want to just participate in short term medical missions. I wanted to leave the place better than we had found it and somehow begin the task of developing health care the villagers could rely on even in our absence.”
At the end of their visit in 2007, Dr. Daly and her husband proposed to the United Church of the Solomon Islands to install a solar power system on the hospital. This would provide the hospital with an independent, 24-hour source of electricity and pave the way to receiving a doctor from the government.
The installation process began in November 2008, and the solar power system was completed in June 2009. The system is currently the largest solar power system in the Solomon Islands.
Dr. Daly said the installation would not have happened without an incredible amount of support from the staff of Uepi Island Resort, which provided free labor and coordinated all of the transportation, logistics, communication and on-site equipment needs.
“My view of the world has changed since our work in the Solomon Islands began,” Dr. Daly said. “I am now aware of how my first world choices affect those in the third world.”
“Most Americans cannot even fathom the condition of Seghe Hospital, as our expectations are so much higher,” Dr. Daly said. “The joy of upgrading the hospital and alleviating some of the suffering due to lack of health care is immense. I have also learned that if an individual chooses to embrace a community’s needs, that big things can happen and real change is possible.”
The Solomon Islands are located in the northwestern South Pacific. The country is made up of 992 islands, of which 347 are populated. Dr. Daly and her husband have been to the islands five times, four of which were medical missions. They plan to continue two trips a year – in June and November.
Dr. Daly is currently in private practice as a gastroenterologist in Salt Lake City. Her husband, Allan, is now the coordinator for all trips. He organizes fundraising and orchestrates the improvements to the hospital. “Without him, the medical missions and hospital upgrades would not be possible,” Dr. Daly said.
How can you help?
• Go on a future trip: MDs, RNs, dentists and other volunteers are always needed (everyone pays their own way).
• Donate money: Donations can be made to Help a Friend Foundation, 4229 Park Terrace Drive, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84124. All donations are tax deductible, and 100 percent of the donations go toward supplies and other hospital needs.
• Donate supplies such as dressing materials and reading glasses.
For more information on the medical mission trips, and to learn more about how you can help, visit http://www.marovomedicalmission.org/ . There are still spots available for the June 2010 mission trip.