By PETER WARI
PATIENTS at the Mendi Provincial Hospital in Southern Highlands were surprised to be served a special dinner last Saturday.
They found out later it was cooked for them by Jacob Alfred whose late father, Alfred Ibini, worked at the hospital as a plumber for 32 years. While working there, he paid Jacob’s schools fees and education needs.
Jacob’s late father from Magarima passed away in 2006. He was married to a woman from Tente village near Mendi town.
Jacob, 38, during a visit thought of doing something special for the hospital. He knew the layout of the hospital well as he used to follow his late dad around the premises.
“My father worked at the hospital and from the income he earned paid my school fees. I was moved when seeing patients eating the same food. I decided to cook them a special meal. I talked to the hospital management team about my plan and they agreed.
“On Friday, I did shopping in Mt Hagen and started preparing the dinner on Saturday morning.
“I was very happy to see everyone smiling when food was served to them. I just felt satisfied and complete.”
Some of the patients were poor and came from remote villages and had no one to take care of them.
One of them, Francis Angareke from Yore village in the Imbonggu district, told of how Alfred visited them on Friday and told them that he would be preparing a meal for them so “everyone will have dinner together”.
“I was very happy to shake hands with him. He is kind, smiled a lot and visited everyone in the wards.”
Jacob was born at the hospital in 1982. He is the eldest in a family of four.
He began his education in 1989 at the Tente Community School from Grade One to Grade Six. He went on to Mendi High School for Grade Seven to Grade 10, then Ialibu Secondary School for grades 11 and 12.
In 2001, he attended the then Vudal Agricultural College (now University of Natural Resources and Environment) and graduated with a degree in tropical agriculture.
He joined Ramu Agri Industries in 2005 and worked there for eight years before moving to LD Logistics Limited in 2012. He worked for Digicel PNG until last September when he joined Puma Energy Ltd as its Highlands regional sales manager.
“ I was very happy to see everyone smiling when food was served to them. I just felt satisfied and complete.”
He has seen how relatives of deceased persons would spend so much money at the funeral, but never bothered to visit them when they were sick.
“This has become a norm. People should change and take care of their relatives when they are sick. It is the time when they need help and support. Not when they are gone (because) they will not be there to see who is crying loudest and who is contributing firewood, food and money.”
Alfred hopes his gesture had made patients happy and helped them recover quickly.
“The jobs we are doing are a blessing from God. Not everyone is working and earning a salary. We have to help them in some way is they are in need.”