Lunch at Dreikikir, East Sepik District, Papua New Guinea

May 16, 2013 at 4:29 am (Commentary, David Wall, Dr Jan J Saave, Dreikikir, East Sepik District, expatriates, Fr John O'Toole, Jock McIntyre, Kami Raymundus, malaria control, Maprik, Papua New Guinea, PNG Health, Robert Desowitz, Salata Village, Wally Trueman or Truman)


A luncheon party in my spacious bush material house, with remarkable guests, some fifty years ago at Dreikikir Patrol Post.

The fare was not remarkable, but more than adequate given the time and place.

Baked beef served cold with potatoes in dressing and lettuce, washed down with a good supply of Victoria Bitter. There was an ample supply of bread and butter. The main course was followed with tropical fruits and coffee.

A good part of this food was flown in by Catholic Mission planes once a week, on a landing strip that was rather famous in having a church at one end, and a hospital at the other – given the shape and nature of the strip, physical and spiritual succour were more than needed!

In attendance serving the guests were two memorable house boys: Kami and Kitahi.

See: http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2013/05/kami-raymundus-of-torembi-mankimasta-and-friend.html#more

The guest of honour was Professor Robert S. Desowitz, then with the University of Singapore as Chair of Medical Parasitology. He was an authority in his field and subsequently he became world famous.

See: http://www.ajtmh.org/content/78/6/849.short

Professor Desowitz

Professor Desowitz was a congenial and appreciative guest, and he was accompanied by Dr Jan J. Saave.

Desowitz and Saave came up from a village called Salata, some distance away towards Maprik where they were involved in research into immunity factors in malaria.

See: https://deberigny.wordpress.com/2013/04/29/dr-jan-j-saave-medico-extraordinaire-malariologist-maestro-mentor-linguist-and-officer-of-the-british-empire/#respond

Another guest was Father John O’Toole, who lived in the Catholic Mission Station at the end of the airstrip. O’Toole was a Bostonian and a man of impressive qualities.

See: https://deberigny.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/some-svd-members-i-knew-in-png/

Another guest, Jock McIntyre was the patrol officer in-charge at Dreikikir Patrol Post. Jock loved a social gathering and a drink.

See: http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2012/09/jock-mcintyre-kiap-adventurer-formidable-companion.html#comments

With the others was Wally Truman or Trueman. Wally was the primary school teacher stationed at Dreikikir. He was a very obliging man, and an excellent teacher. At the lunch, Wally did a lot assisting with the catering. He was to see out his term teaching in PNG, and the last I heard of him was that he married and settled in Queensland, where, as far as I know, he continued teaching. His whereabouts now are unknown to me.

During the lunch a lively conversation was carried on. The Professor and Fr O’Toole got on very well being fellow Americans.

Dr Saave referred to the camping site in Salata Village as the Salata Hilton, and Professor Desowitz sat with an amused look smoking his pipe.

As the afternoon progressed, Dr Saave excused himself to check on the patients in the hospital and to lend assistance if it were needed.

Things about Dreikikir were fairly quiet on this day as it was a Sunday.

Looking back it was a privilege for me to have been the host to such a distinguished group, and a sobering thought for me that it is I who is probably the only one still alive, that is if Wally is no longer here on earth.

See: http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2013/03/my-story-from-greenhorn-planter-to-a-true-man-of-png-david-wall-on-a-colonial-life-and-beyond.html#comments

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