The National Referral Hospital Staff and patients have lauded Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and his family for spreading the cheer of Christmas with them at the hospital.
Hon Sogavare and his wife Emmy and their children Brandt and Shannon celebrated the 2015 Christmas Day cheering up the in-patients of the hospital with the Christmas Story- the story of the birth of Christ and the hope for eternal life that this Christ Child instills in Christians- along with the presentation of gifts.
They were accompanied by the Chairman of Government Caucus, Hon Jackson Fiulaua and his wife Mary, staffers of the Prime Minister’s Office and two gospel singing groups- The Keamami Youth and Sade Family Duet who performed alongside Brandt and Shannon.
The six-hour tour, which covered all wards, commenced at 10am in Children’s ward where the young patients apart from being presented gifts, were treated to a Christmas cake that was cut by the Prime Minister himself and the Medical Superintendent Dr Rooney Jagilly.
Commenting on the visit, Dr Jagilly said this year’s visit to the hospital by the Prime Minister and his party was unprecedented as it covered all the wards and that every patient received a gift.
“This is an unprecedented visit having covered all wards of the hospital and all patients were each given a gift.
“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Prime Minister and his wife and children for their decision to celebrate Christmas in hospital with our patients.
“My gratitude also goes to the Chairman of Government Caucus and his wife and the staff of the Prime Minister’s Office for accompanying the Prime Minister and his family on this important visit which the hospital administration and patients greatly appreciate.”
Nurse Florence Gua described the visit as enlightenment for the patients who unfortunately have to spend Christmas in hospital due to illness.
The mother of young patient Florence Sikua said she was pleased to see the Prime Minister spend Christmas in hospital cheering up the sick.
“Florence is frail and cannot even sit to witness what’s happening. I’m indeed thankful to the Prime Minister and his family for making this visit,” she added.
The mother of another young patient, John Patterson Sosimo, smiled as the Prime Minister lifted her son onto his lap and bade the other young patients who are strong enough to move around to join him for a photoshoot.
“I am heartened to see my son smile as he reached out for the Christmas gift handed to him by the Prime Minister’s wife and ushered by the Prime Minister to sit on his lap for a photoshoot.
“I treasure these moments very much,” Sisimo’s mother said.
For sick little Rexina Solo, the distribution of Christmas gifts was the highlight of the Sogavare family visit to the Children’s Ward.
Solo was all smiles as he sat on his bed holding on to the Christmas gift he received.
“My son is excited over his Christmas gift. For him the gift presentation part of the programme is the highlight. I’m happy for him,” said Solo’s mother.
An emotional John Sana who has spent 15 years at the hospital as a patient described the visit as an enlightenment for patients.
“I am so pleased to see the Prime Minister standing at my bedside, encouraging me to put my trust in Jesus despite being ill for so long. His presence really lifted my spirit and so were the scriptural encouragements and singing.
“I hardly have visitors so I’m very happy that the Prime Minister and his family have come to visit me and I can’t be thankful enough for such an act of goodwill,” he said as he tried to hold back his tears.
Chief Alick Foubola labeled the Prime Minister as ‘a national leader who seeks to serve the needs of his citizens, especially the sick and less fortunate, ahead of his own.’
Patients Henry Star Dora, Francis Mete and John Tila also spoke appreciatively of the visit.
“The Prime Minister’s visit gives us hope, love and enlightenment. I feel healed upon seeing the Prime Minister walk into this ward. The singing also is very melodious,” Mr Dora uttered delightedly.
A smiling Mr Mete said, “It’s a miraculous visit. It’s a visit of healing. It uplifts my spirit and I believe it has the same effect on other patients.”
“It’s good to see the Prime Minister visit us. He would have chosen to spend Christmas with his family in the comfort of their home or elsewhere so I would like to thank him and all who have come with him here for this visit,” Mr Tila said with tears trickling down his eyes.
Patricia Idu who was looking after her sick father in-law Andrew Idu said the visit by the Prime Minister would not have come at a better time than Christmas.
“Christmas is usually an emotional time for patients because it is a time when they feel they should be celebrating with their families at home but bad health doesn’t allow them.”
Prime Minister Sogavare meanwhile described the Christmas hospital visitation as ‘very fulfilling’ and looks forward for a similar programme for the next Christmas.
“I and my family feel so blessed reaching out to the sick and needy with what God has blessed us with and will continue to reach out to them,” the Prime Minister added.
The Prime Minister and his family also extended their Christmas goodwill visit to the Good Samaritan Hospital at Tetere in the Guadalcanal Plains, which they visited the next day- Boxing Day.
In 2014, the Prime Minister’s wife and children made a surprise Christmas Day visit to the patients of the National Referral Hospital.
The three- hour visit, which also saw the cheering up of patients with scriptural readings and performance of gospel songs and the distribution of gifts to all patients, also won the praise of both the patients and hospital staff.