MAF PNG re-opened the Telefomin base in November 2016 with a Twin Otter programme. Pilot Richie Axon, with his family, have been based at Telefomin since then and the family loves it there!

However, since March this year MAF has been struggling to keep this busy Twin Otter base staffed due to pilot families dealing with unexpected sickness, leaving PNG for family reasons or moving to another MAF programme. For a few months now, several other pilots and their families, based either in Mt Hagen or Goroka, have moved to Telefomin for a few weeks each to help fly the Twin Otter there. Brad Venter and his family were available to live 3 weeks in Telefomin due to school holidays at their home base of Goroka.

This three-part series will give you some idea of the blessing our MAF base is to the people of the Min area, an area which is only accessible by air. It also shows you how our staff, either permanent or temporarily based at Telefomin, become a blessing to the people we serve.

The backbone of our Telefomin base: Base Manager Lucy Sokol and the Traffic Officers Steven Kisa and Eugene Dikinsep

Day 1: 5 Minutes instead of a Day

“Recently, Brad and I were away for the day flying a programme for our Tari base.“ shares Richie. “At the end of our flying day, on our way back to Telefomin, we received word that there was a medevac request from Eliptamin. Thankfully this was just a short diversion. The patient was a 7 year old girl, Dugutrah, who had broken her femur when she slipped off the steps of her house and fell onto a rock. This had happened the previous evening about 6 o’clock. The health officers who are normally based in Eliptamin were in Telefomin to vote in the government elections which were currently under way. It must be hard for parents to be unable to do anything for their injured children, except to comfort them.“

Eliptamin and Telefomin are linked by a bush track. Good walkers manage to hike it in one day. This would have been a painful and arduous journey for Dugutrah and even more so for a group of carriers. For the Twin Otter it was only a 5 minute flight from Eliptamin to Telefomin.

Dugutrah with her mother on the back of the MAF truck

So a day after the accident Dugutrah, with her father Nelson and mother Hilda, could received treatment at the Telefomin hospital.

 

Besides the medical care Dugutrah received she was loved and blessed by our MAF families when the pilots’ wives and their children went to visit her at the Telefomin haus sik (hospital).

 

“Emily could recognise from her recent experience with her own fractured elbow, how different the level of care this girl was getting was to the exceptional care she got in Townsville with an orthopaedic surgeon and intensive physiotherapy“ adds Bernie. “In contrast, this girl was in a clean but dingy ward, on a bed with no sheets. She had a drip and her leg was bandaged, but had not been set yet. The kids and I took a child medevac bag with us as the kids were really wanting to donate things of theirs, like toys and books, to give to Dugutrah which was really sweet. Tim and Stephen really enjoyed getting some of their things together to give her, and were glad we could help her.“

However, the treatment the Telefomin hospital was able to provide wasn’t enough for Dugutrah. A few days later the decision was made to transfer her to Tabubil, a mining town where there is a better hospital, to get her leg attended to properly.

“We were very happy that she was transferred to Tabubil where she has a chance of having it set correctly,“ Bernie continued. “We were glad that we could be part of helping her get from the bush where she would have had no help, to Telefomin and then with another flight to a hospital where she will have a good level of care.“