Unfortunately friends have their own lives to live and, although they keep in touch, they move on. The support of family is essential. One has to admire the spirit of Francis and Domonic who have a positive attitude even though they are often in great pain.
Domonic is under the care of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Service which has made a huge difference in supplying all his equipment and nursing requirements. I cannot imagine how difficult it would have been without this first class care.
I’ll give readers an idea of what equipment is desirable in order to provide first class care. Most of this would benefit Francis but would be unavailable to him.
A mattress specifically designed for Francis. A bed that can be raised and lowered in a few positions to relieve pressure sores. A hoist and harness to raise and lower Francis when required. A specially scripted wheelchair with an air adjustable cushion. A tilt table to allow the physio to raise Francis to a standing position to help circulation and relieve some pressure on areas suffering pressure sores. Exercise equipment. A commode to assist with toileting and washing.
Then Francis would need physiotherapy each week and consultation from an occupational therapist to encourage his positive attitude and nursing care. I hope Sir Joseph Nombri Hospital supplies some of this equipment and nursing services.
However for Francis to leave hospital and live in his own accommodation he would need all the above. The accommodation would also need to be modified to suit his needs.
People in Francis’ position should not be written off as they can contribute so much to their communities.
For example Domonic ,although a quadriplegic ,has started a university course, designs websites for the nursing group that looks after him and goes to schools to teach students children the dangers of risky behaviour.
He has also designed his own web site to help others in similar situations - www.freewheeler.com.au.
The military have set up a workshop for him so he can make some of his own aids. They have modified a van so he can drive himself around safely. It has modern computerised aids and is only one of about five in Australia. Domonic is able to be independent and involved in these productive and creative activities.
I have trained an assistant dog for him and Rizzo provides therapy for Dom as well as performs simple tasks. Just this week Dom’s wheelchair broke down for the second time. He was on his own and could have been in trouble but luckily he was able to ask Rizzo to fetch the phone. Domonic was soon on the phone to me for help.
Even with the support Dom receives, he would still, of course, prefer to be an able bodied person able to play rugby league and engage in other activities the rest of us take for granted.
I believe the Australian foreign aid program has got to support disability services in PNG as the provision of proper equipment is so expensive and there would be so many other people in Francis’s position.
A humorous incident to finish with. One day I had Dom strapped to the tilt table and, as he stood there, we were exercising using boxing gloves and pads.
After we had finished we were raided by the police as someone had reported that I had been torturing Domonic.
To avoid being arrested, I had to explain what we were doing. I offered to strap one of the policemen to the table to show them what we had been doing.
They rejected the offer and left laughing.
How you can donate to the $10,000 Francis Nii Appeal
Australia & Rest of World
Account: Crocodile Prize
Location: Noosa Civic, Noosaville, Australia
Account No: 392-865-774
Papua New Guinea
Account: Simbu Children Foundation
Bank: Bank South Pacific
Location: Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Account No: 100-124-0413
Drop us an email here when you’ve made the bank transfer and tell us your name including a message for Francis too if you like.
If you don’t do electronic banking, you can send a cheque to the Crocodile Prize at PO Box 1688, Noosa Heads, Queensland 4567.