Written by Rev. Trevor Christian Johnson
Nabire, 5/1 (Jubi) – The night I met Puti Hatil I wept three times. I wept for Puti and the general bad state of health throughout Korowai region. And I wept thinking about Daniel Hatil, a father who carried his child in his arms for 10 hours walk through the jungle and had been witnessing the sufferings of his child grow worse day by day.
One of the teachers in Danowage wept when Puti was carried up onto my front porch and he saw Puti Hatil’s hole in his cheek. This teacher cried out, “My God, why would God allow this, why God?”
I wept over and over then thinking, “This is 2017 and there are still so many places in the world where small children such as this suffer terribly with no medical help and must be carried 10 hours to the nearest help. And that help is not even a hospital but a simple missionary clinic as ours is.”
During the month of October a medical case from the Korowai area went viral throughout Papua. This was the case of the sick Korowai child, Puti Hatil. Facebook and What’s App groups circulated prayer requests and photographs and in just a short time over a dozen regional newspaper articles were printed about this sick child.
Puti Hatil is a 3 years old who suffered for a month in the remote village of Afimabul in the Korowai region. A wound in his cheek grew worse and worse until it ate through his cheek until there was a widening hole there. There are no roads, no stores, no electricity, and no government presence in almost the entire region where Puti lives.
In desperation, therefore, and aided by the Evangelist Dakinus Wanimbo, Puti’s father carried Puti to Danowage where I live in order to get help.
They started walking at 7am and did not reach Danowage until 5pm, struggling through thick jungle and swamp and crossing small rivers. There in Danowage our missionary medical clinic helped clean the wound and then arrange to get them to Dian Harapan hospital where they could receive more thorough care.
Little Puti has received much media attention these past two months. But in this three part articles, I would like to highlight 3 other forgotten people from the case of Puti Hatil who also deserve attention.
The forgotten Danil Hatil
I admit that Daniel Hatil was not exactly forgotten by the media. But media did not catch the most important thing about Puti’s father.
I was reading a newspaper article about Daniel Hatil entitled, “Daniel Hatil, Pria Korowai Ini Pertama Kali Makan Nasi (Daniel Hatil, this is the First Time this Korowai Man has Eaten Rice). It is a fine article and I am glad it was published, but it misses the main point.
The MOST important aspect of this story was not that an interior man from the jungle ate rice for the very first time, or saw automobiles for the very first time. This only serves to sensationalize the primitive or write about him because of his unfortunate trait of not being very knowledgeable about the world. The reader might be motivated to pity Daniel, but that is not ideal.
Pity is not the right motivation. We should not pity Daniel Hatil; we should revere him. The MAIN focus of any article mentioning Puti’s father Daniel Hatil should be this: what a devoted father he is. What an outstanding example of love he has shown to his son.
We should not feel superior to him because we are from the city or are more highly educated. Rather, Daniel is a good example to us all for us to learn from.
In Papua the family is disintegrating. Many fathers in the city beat their children or go and get drunk and speak roughly to their family members. But here in the middle of the jungle we witness this example of a kind father Daniel who sacrificed his own time and strength and comfort for his son Puti.
It is what is inside the heart of man that is the most important.
The name of the disease that Puti suffers from is called Noma, or Cancrum Oris, and you can find horrifying pictures of noma on the internet.
This disease only occurs in conditions of extreme malnutrition, and it slowly eats away all the flesh on the face. Only the very poorest and malnourished parts of the world experience this illness.
Yet in this year, 2017, Papua is still such a place. So much OTSUS money is pouring into Papua, yet this area is still very, very poor.
Where is it all going? (Continue to part 2)
Editor: Zely Ariane