Francis Sina Nii – writer, wise man, paraplegic, a son of Papua New Guinea to the bottom of his feet – could be heading for serious strife.
There are a number of us who, for some years now, have corresponded with Francis by email. But email, convenient though it may be, tells you little about the character or circumstances of the receiver.
It took a phone call, that 19th century methodology, from Robin Lillicrap to discern the true nature of affairs in the corner of the intensive care ward at Sir Joseph Nombri Hospital, Kundiawa, where resides Francis Nii.
Robin soon learned that Francis was no innocent bystander to his condition: he knew exactly what was going on in his body.
A body wracked with problems after more than a year confined to bed because of pressure sores. Ugly bone deep ulcers caused by resting too long on too small an area of skin and bone.
Pressure sores offer this appearance... and thank you Wikipedia:
“A purple or maroon localised area of discoloured intact skin or blood-filled blister due to damage of underlying soft tissue from pressure and/or shear. The area may be preceded by tissue that is painful, firm, mushy, boggy, warmer or cooler as compared to adjacent tissue….”
But Francis Nii does not need Wikipedia:
“From experience,” he told PNG Attitude readers yesterday, “the dangers for a paraplegic lying inactively too long in bed are porosity of the bones in the lower limbs (bones can break easily), formation of kidney and bladder stones (attributed to poor drainage of urine) and loss of serum through discharge from the wounds like pressure sores resulting in dehydration and loss of weight.
“They are the common complications and if they are not properly tackled they lead to death.”
This is a man who understands the processes he is going through even as he lacks, because of the constraints of his own body and the failing services of the state of PNG, the means to do very much about this disintegration.
Francis Nii went on to describe what we all hope maye have been a turning point:
“It is true my life is under serious threat. I [was] fighting a silent battle alone until a phone call one morning from Australia.
“Then I realised there are friends who are ready to share the load.”
Well those friends are us, readers, and some of us, of course, are more prepared (and able) to share the load than others.
Earlier, Francis had reminisced about those weeks and months in hospital – in the grim ward where those who would never walk again were deployed – that followed his disastrous accident in 1999.
“There were 11 of us paraplegics in the hospital and eight died
“They simply gave up because they could not cope with the hard physical and mental challenges.
“Two were discharged for home care. I am the only one left now.”
I wonder where they are – not the victims, we know where they are.
I refer to the diplomats, aid contractors, think tankers, politicians, academics, consultants, journalists, bureaucrats who make a quid out of PNG and who read these words from time to time.
I wonder where they are when people like Francis Nii need a hand.
Some people talk; some people do.
I think our readers may be Francis's sole recourse.
How you can donate to the $10,000 Francis Nii Appeal
Australia & Rest of World
Account: Crocodile Prize
Location: Miller & Mount Streets, North Sydney, 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.