PNG Tribal Foundation
V Scan Project:
Crazy month of March (2020)
March 1 I (Mark) flew to Trondheim Norway to be the “opponent” for a PhD defense at NTNU – (Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelige universitet). Sunila Shakya was defending. My old friend and colleague and her supervisors Erik Solligård and his wife Kari Risnes were there to support Sunila. She did great. I asked tough but reasonable questions and she nailed them!
After a lovely 5 days in Norway (warmer than Telluride!) Mark flew to PNG and met Nancy who had flown via Australia. We spent two weeks assessing hospitals for Project C.U.R.E., delivering ultrasounds for the Tribal foundation and training physicians to use them. POM, Rabaul (we got 2 days off to go diving!), Kandep, Wewak, Mt Hagen.
Then COVID. Our schedule has us fly to NZ to spend 3 weeks bicycling. NZ closed a week before we were to fly but stayed open to Pacific Islanders (like PNG) until two day before our flight. Then the dominoes began to fall. We booked flights home via. Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and Tokyo. All closed to travelers after we were ticketed. We considered just staying in PNG but all the hotels were closing, hospitals are not well equipped (we know) and we were worried we would be stuck for months or years. One of our friends suggested we could move into his home village, since it was a 3 day walk from the nearest dirt road it would be pretty safe – we considered it.
After 11 cancelled flights Mark finagled a special visa for Australia – and Qantas held their last flight out for 20 minutes so we could catch it. One night quarantined in a Brisbane hotel, a flight to LAX and on to home. LAX was empty!
Spring 2021: A quick update on PNG. We have been working to educate the physicians on COVID. Many are quite knowledgeable and UTD but the crazy denial thing is everywhere. Too many people seem to believe that God will save them or that dark skinned people are immune. Depressing.
Great news: PNG is opening! The Tribal Foundation got some of the ultrasounds we (actually Telluride Rotary) bought to outlying hospitals. This is a big deal since the hospitals have very limited XRay equipment and ultrasounds are about equally good at diagnosing lung disease i. e Covid. Now we need to do some online training for the physicians (and get over there)!