We’ve been living and serving with MAF in Rumginae, Western Province (PNG) since mid-April 2015. My husband, Steve, felt called to mission flying about 20 years before joining MAF. South Africa is our birthplace but we now have two countries which we can call home. Our Papua New Guinean home is in Rumginae, a small community in the Western Province. We love the people and place where we serve and consider ourselves blessed to be here.
I so enjoy my visits to the Rumginae hospital which is just a couple of hundred metres from our house. Due to the fact that I am very busy either spending time with my kids aged 4 and 2.5 and/or managing my haus meri (house lady/helper), I do have little time to do regular visits. I sometimes manage to go over in the evening after dinner time and putting our boys to bed or else on weekends when Steve isn’t flying.
When a patient is brought on the plane for treatment at the hospital, I will do my best to see them as soon as I can. We present them with a gift which is packaged by the MAF ladies in Mount Hagen, and its contents donated by various individuals. These presents are always so appreciated.
The reason I enjoy these hospital visits so much is because they provide an opportunity to connect. I am an extrovert whose tank needs filling through interaction with people. These hospital visits are a great way of topping me up because I am so appreciated, I make new friends from remote far away places, we share stories and am able to pray with them. I am always received with love and huge smiles. I am always humbled. Sometimes, I’m unable to communicate effectively with the patients if they or their guardian/helper don’t speak pidgin or English.
I often end up receiving something in return. I have been blessed with many bilums (handmade string bags) which take a long time to produce. Each one tells a story.
Regularly, I find myself going back to the MAF base to get more bags for the rest of the patients in the ward. Some of them have such sad stories.
I recently made a lovely friend, Ruth from Musula. I learnt so much from her about gardening and faith. She had her baby here and was only able to return to her village after about two months. Her husband and family only got to meet baby Mary on her return by the MAF plane.
Recently, the hospital had a group of patients from Huya. Huya is the village where one woman lost all of her immediate family including her baby in the recent earthquake. I was able to show the Huya patients some pictures on my phone of Nagei walking to the plane with crutches about to be reunited with some extended family members after many weeks spent at the Mount Hagen hospital. They were so happy to see her.
I always take pictures of the patients with their presents and then show them afterward. I sometimes wonder when last they saw themselves in a mirror and I also wonder whether they’ve ever received a gift before.
Thank you so much to the many donors giving towards the medevac care bags and also towards funding medevac flights. You are making a difference in PNG!
Story by Camilla Eatwell. Photos by LuAnne Cadd (LAC), Camilla Eatwell (CE) and Mandy Glass (MG)