10 August 2016

A Bright New Hope in Armeks’ Hands


The morning sunshine greets the people of the Inanwatan District, South Sorong in the West Papua Province. They start each day with activities like sailing, going to the forest to collect sago, while the kids go to school to receive formal education. One of those people is Ebson Adoy, a native, 40 years of age, who enjoys his morning routine as a teacher at the Saga Matemani Junior High School.

Ebson prepares a small boat called “ting-ting” by local society. This ting-ting always carries him to the Matemani District every day. There is no possibility to exit the Inanwatan District on the land way. Ting-tings have become the only mean of transportation for the Inanwatan people to reach other districts. Right after arriving at school, the father of seven greets his students and starts teaching them about the Christian religion.


Ebson spends the time until noon teaching at the school, unless during the weekend and the school holidays. After work, he likes to spend quality time with his beloved family. Just like in school, it is important for Ebson to pass religious values to his seven children. The family lives in a very difficult economic situation like hundreds of others of the Inanwatan people.


One day, it was the 27th of October in 2010, after work, Ebson went back home and was welcomed by his third son named Armeks Adoy. Armeks was 3 years old at that time, but he used to help with the household chores (like e.g. carrying water and firewood for cooking). On that day, Ebson saw Armeks carrying firewood to help his mother with her dinner preparations. He saw Armeks as a cheerful and kindhearted young kid who always wanted to help his parents.


Ebson hurried to change his school uniform to casual clothes and rested for a while. Before sundown, he went to fill up the “ting-ting” with fuel. The mustachioed man preferred to go to bed early considering that the day after he needed to arrive early at school for the Youth Pledge commemoration ceremony (an important declaration made by Indonesian nationalists in 1928). Due to that, he prepared everything early the day before.


It was almost dark when Ebson took out his oil lamp to light the way later on. People in Java use to call it “cempor” or “lampu teplok.” Electricity hadn’t reached the Inanwatan district yet at that time. People used to rely on oil lamps for lighting. Ebson placed it about 1 meter away from the site where he wanted to refuel the ting-ting.


Ebson opened the lid of his fuel canister and was in a hurry to pour the gasoline into the ting-ting’s tank. All of a sudden, the fire of the oil lamp ignited gasoline fumes. By happenstance, Armeks was standing near him. The fire reached out for Armeks’ little body as he was standing between the oil lamp and the jerry can and burned him.


“I had no idea that Armeks had followed me when I was about to refuel the Ting-ting. The fire quickly grabbed his body, he was standing right behind me when the accident happened. Armeks shouted for help but it happened too fast,” Ebson recalled, trying to memorize what had happened.


Seeing that his son was set on fire, Ebson hurried to extinguish it as fast as possible. Though he tried his best, the fire had already inflicted serious damage to Armeks’ little body. Ebson took him to the Inanwatan Community Health Center (“Puskesmas”) for an immediate treatment. Almost his whole body was burnt, especially his back, his right hand, and his right leg. The whole next month, Armeks was treated intensively at the Puskesmas of Inanwatan. Ebson decided to arrange his own relocation to teach at a school in the Inanwatan district to be able to look after his beloved son.


A month passed, but some part of Armeks’ body never recovered to the state they had before the accident. However, Ebson never gave up and kept praying for his son to recover. He was rigidly saving as much as possible of his teaching salary to pay for his son’s treatment. For the sake of his beloved son, Ebson was striving to earn more money from various jobs besides teaching.


Six years had passed after the accident and Armeks was in the third grade (Elementary School). Burn scars were still quite obvious to see on some parts of his body. Armeks was striving to do his best to learn at school despite his limitations. The 9 year old boy made friends easily, studied, and played at school. Armeks’ mother, Aplena Erare, confessed that her son often became angry and upset when some of his schoolmates started teasing him from his physical condition.


“He was still playing together with his schoolmates even though they kept teasing him. He only used to get upset when he got back from school and told his mother what had happened,” Aplena stated.


Ebson and Aplena took really good care of Armeks, just like the way they did with their other six children. One day, they heard that a team from doctorSHARE docked at the Inanwatan Port with a Floating Hospital (Indonesian: “Rumah Sakit Apung”, RSA). It was told that the team would perform medical services and surgeries in the Inanwatan district free of charge. Aplena tried to persuade her son to visit the port in order to get the burn scars on his hand checked. However, it it was not easy to do so after all that Armeks had been through.


“Last night, my husband and I already talked with Armeks about this topic, but he refused to listen. Early in the morning he even disappeared. He came back home only after his father had arrived after teaching in the evening. He requested Armeks to take a bath and then accompany him for a walk to see the boat,” Aplena replied.


Armeks finally agreed to go for a walk to the port. After reaching it, Ebson and Aplena were still trying to convince Armeks to do a checkup. Finally, he gave in and was willing to trust the team from doctorSHARE to check his little hands. With the first checkup, the team tried to examine if Armeks was in a good physical condition for a surgery the day after. One of the surgeons, Dr. Oktaviati, SpB. explained that Armeks’ hand was in the right condition for a surgical operation and it might regain its full functionality again after a while.


“Based on clinical consideration, Armeks’ hand had a big probability to recover entirely. His young age makes a quick recovery possible, besides especially the right hand is considered a vital organ for a right handed person since it is used to write, hold things, etc.,” Dr. Oktaviati stated.


Armeks’ preliminary check was finished at 2pm local time. He was required to fast before the surgical operation which was scheduled for 6pm local time the next day. Armeks was happily playing with his little brothers while waiting. However, he searched for the proximity of his parents when it was about time to do the surgery. Armeks’ hand surgery went as planned according to the schedule set up by the team. His parents were waiting outside during the operation.


It took four hours for the surgical operation to be completed and until Ebson was allowed to see his son. Armeks’ hand looked better than ever after the accident. The medical team advised Ebson to help Armeks training and stretching his arm every single day. It would help to accelerate Armeks’ recovery.


Dr. Oktaviati stated that Armeks’ right hand would function normally again after this important surgery. He only needed to train his muscles to speed up the recovery process. Armeks would also need a special treatment for his skin to recover. If his little hand regained its functionality, Armeks’ hope for a brighter future could finally be raised again.


“The sooner the recovery is, the better. He can catch up with his classmates. Armeks will also make more friends among his schoolmates, becoming more confident to live his life,” Dr. Oktaviati replied.


Written by: Panji Arief Sumirat
Translated by: Maria Yuly Indarto
Edited by: Jendrik Silomon