This story is told by Marijke Muilwijk, based in Telefomin, after she had the opportunity to join a Medevac flight with her husband Pilot Piet in the end of August. 

Last Saturday Piet was asked to fly a medevac. A woman with a broken back was reported. A MAF lady suggested to babysit our boys so that I could join Piet. A golden opportunity!

The flight was beautiful! We picked up the woman at a remote airstrip in the middle of the mountains. The woman had no broken back but was very ill. She was thin, covered in sores and trembling a lot. She was in a lot of pain.

We understood that the men from the village had walked for 2.5 days to go to a place where they had range to call MAF. And then 2.5 days back.

Just before departure I saw several women walking up to the sick woman and putting money and some food in her bag. The woman who accompanied her also took a large bunch of bananas. I wondered why.

After a quiet flight, (luckily for the woman no turbulence) she was transferred to the hospital in the town of Tari.

The question about the chucked in money and food was solved. They don’t get anything to eat in the hospital. They have to rely on the care of wantoks (family). People from the bush take food with them to sell in order to buy other things they need. Fortunately, the medical care itself is good in this hospital, they had 5 doctors, someone said proudly!

On the way back we made another stop at the village where we had picked up the woman. From Tari we had taken people who had to go back to this village. One of them was a teenage boy. And truly, that boy was all happiness and joy! He just kept giggling and smiling. He punched me a few times and was so happy, “I’m going home” he said. And when we got home it turned out that the love and longing was from both sides! Just priceless!

What a beautiful morning to experience together like this!