We are always honoured to take Dr. Louis Samiak, surgeon and former CEO of Boram Hospital, along with us for a medical patrol through the Upper Karawari and Arafundi Rivers. He is one of PNG's great unsung heroes for his unflinching efforts to bring medical care to these parts of the East Sepik where the aid posts have been understocked, understaffed and in most places absent altogether. In some places like Latoma, and the rest camp where we found the Meakambut, Dr. Samiak is the first medical professional they have ever seen.
In light of the current National Geographic story featuring the Meakambut people which appears to suggest these nomadic peoples are starving for protein and terribly ill, we wish to point out that this is the second patrol of Dr. Samiak where he has recorded remarkably good health for these populations still living entirely off their bush. Small of structure, vulnerable to malaria, TB and pneumonia, these populations are nevertheless not afflicted by any serious dietary or genetic problems, and it is vitally important to reinforce this fact because any suggestion that removing them from their bush, or vice versa, might be construed a favour. Indeed, the fact that government services have never reached them and yet despite all this they endure and even thrive, is a mark of how rich and important that bush remains.
Our company has been paying the school fees for five of these villages, from Community and Primary through those lucky enough to get to High Schools elsewhere, as well as Code and training for prospective teachers, APOs and Village Health Volunteers---and we are thrilled that the government has now stepped in to cover these costs (or most of them), which allows us to bring more meds, more water tanks (we brought 10 this time, with 20 forthcoming), more solar panels, school materials and basic agricultural equipment to all of them---because these are the guardians of the very large, very culturally and historically important Karawari Caves which we are recording.
Please also note that within these photos is a shot of Lidia and Pasu, who are featured in the Nat Geo article, looked hale and hearty now, as proud parents of a newborn baby girl. Dr. Samiak pronounced her healthy, and is not exploring how to bring innoculations to the babies in all these villages.