MAF PNG's Communications Officer, Mandy Glass, was able to hear how a father vividly remembered the day and circumstances from 6 years ago when his wife faced child birth difficulties and needed a medevac to save her life.
Story and photos by Mandy Glass
Earlier this year, my pilot husband was needed to facilitate some airstrip training out of Telefomin. I often go along on such short-term postings. These trips always provide great story opportunities for me, being one of MAF PNG’s Communications Officers. I love to capture the work of MAF. I love seeing how our flights make an impact on the lives of individuals or help communities in various ways (like providing health or education support, building materials, flying local produce out and store goods in). And then, there are the special medevac flights.
In 2017, MAF Papua New Guinea was still operating Twin Otters. A medevac request from remote Yapsie had to be postponed to the next day due to bad weather. Overnight, two women at the Telefomin hospital faced medical issues prompting the nurses to refer them to Tabubil hospital. Landing at Tabubil, we had a full Twin Otter plane - the Telefomin hospital’s midwife, a nursing officer, a total of 4 patients from Telefomin and Yapsie (two of them laying on stretchers in the cabin), and every remaining seat filled by their guardian family members.
I already knew that a year after the medevac, the mother unfortunately passed away, leaving the father with a toddler.
Being in Telefomin recently, I wondered if it would be possible to reconnect with the family.
The MAF Telefomin base staff directed me to Community Health Workers Training School at Telefomin to find Mr Imit Angelok (the father), who works there as an Admin Clerk.
He vividly remembered the day and circumstances from 6 years ago and shared his story with me.
End of March, when my wife, Osa, was about to deliver Grace, we went through a hard time,” Mr Imit said. “We were in the Telefomin District Hospital. But the baby wasn't delivered normal. The nurses said that ‘We can't see the baby; we can't feel it.’ So, they said that the baby might have died. ‘We'll wait till tomorrow (and) send you to Tabubil hospital, to save the mother.’
“I was thinking that this couldn’t be true. I didn't believe what the nurses said. I know that this child is still alive.
“So, the next morning, the doctor called the MAF agent to arrange the emergency flight to Tabubil to save my wife, Osa. MAF postponed their normal flights and gave priority to our medevac. (When) we came to MAF, the plane was ready. We put Osa into the plane with the assistance of the MAF pilot and his wife. And then, not only Osa, but there was another mother who already gave birth but still needed medical assistance. We were all flown to Yapsie, where there were another two mothers who were also suffering the same situation.
“As we landed at Tabubil, my wife, Osa, was in real critical condition. They said we will take her to the hospital first. So, we put her in the ambulance and then took her to the hospital.
“We went there, and the doctor took my wife into the operation room. After five minutes, they called and said, ‘We received a baby girl!’ Then the doctors took Osa to the ward and we stayed there for another two days. The baby, Grace, was discharged, but the mother was still in bad condition. So, we waited another six weeks (until) she could walk with the baby in her bilum. We came back by MAF again to Telefomin and then met our friend Mandy here. She was very happy at the time too.
“So that's how MAF helped us save my wife, Osa, and Grace. That’s how God saved both lives.”
This is exactly what sparked the name for the new-born baby girl, as Mr Imit shared with me.
“Before this girl was delivered, we were planning to give her another name. But it turned out to be Grace. Because of the grace of God that saved the mother and the child. Because of God's grace, God saved two lives. That's the only reason we call her Grace.”
It’s wonderful to see how little Grace has been provided for in the years after her mum passed away. She is looked after by her Aunty, her late mum’s younger sister, who works as an Elementary teacher in nearby Feranmin, about a day’s walk away from Grace’s Telefomin home. There, Grace can grow up with her cousins, and go to school.
The widowed man, Mr Imit is married again.
It happened that the day my husband and I left Telefomin to return to Mt Hagen, Grace was on board too. Her first flight ever! Going to fly to where her new mum comes from and meet her extended new Jiwaka family.