FAIM – New Guinea Story

FAIM – NEW GUINEA STORY
In response to World President Rajendra Saboo’s challenge for Rotary Clubs to become involved in projects that were new to a club and had a “hands-on” emphasis, the Rotary Club of Morialta decided to become involved with a FAIM (Fourth Avenue in Motion) project in 1991-1992. Russell Bianco, Dino Pietrobon from Bianco Builders Hardware, Nick Loechel, Stephen Foley from the Master Builder’s Group Apprenticeship Scheme, Graham Flavel, John Pearce from TAFE and Rotarian Keith Fullgrabe from the Rotary Club of Maitland were all selected for the skills which they had in building. They were joined by Martin Tittensor and Arnold Thompson from Victoria, who had been awarded their trip as part of a Rotary Vocational Award. A Building Project was found in the Highlands of New Guinea, and the team was briefed and left for New Guinea only five weeks after selection. The team was away between the 12 and 31 May and in that period constructed a Four Room School Building, two Four Room Teacher Houses, a Medical centre and completed the floors and fitout of a Church. This was an unbelievable amount of work compared to that normally achieved by such working parties. The project was described as follows in the Rotary FAIM Central Review Newsletter:
We will talk about it for a long time
(A report from notes prepared by Rtn Keith Fullgrabe and TAFE lecturer Graham Flavel)
On 12 May 1992 Rotarian Keith Fullgrabe led a FAIM team, of which he was the only Rotarian, to Papua New Guinea to build two houses for teachers at Kamulai and a large double school building at Koefa.
These two villages near each other are approximately 40 minutes flying time west of Port Moresby and about 60 miles inland from Mainohana, Central Province PNG.
The team left Port Moresby at 6.30 am and arrived at Kamulai at 7.10 am travelling in a twin engine aircraft and according to Graham Flavel was quite an experience, travelling through cloud and witnessing protruding mountain peaks above, then sweeping through clouds below to come into clear skies and see the small airstrip on the side of the hill while the plane was banking for landing. “Quite an experience I can assure you,” said Graham.
The landing was smooth and on alighting the team viewed the village of Kamulai below the airstrip. A magnificent view if ever they had seen one, of lush varying green country, 6000 feet above sea level with valleys, waterfalls and hills in all directions.
The team was met at the airstrip by Father Abel Michenaud, a French man by birth in his early 70s, who introduced his National helpers, who drove the tractor and trailer with the team’s belongings down a narrow, winding track to the Church Mission where Father Abel had spent eight years building a stone church. Koefa is a 2 ½ hour tractor trip from Kamulai so it was decided to split the team as follows: Koefa – Keith Fullgrabe, John Pearce, Stephen Foley, Arnold Thompson. Kamulai – Graham Flavel, Russell Bianco, Dino Pietrobon, Martin Tittensor, Nich Loechel.
Graham, Russell, Dino, John, Stephen and Nick had been sponsored by Bianco Builders Hardware, Newton, South Australia
Keith Fullgrabe says the trip to Koefa by tractor and trailer took much more than 2½ hours with the Nationals, cutting the bush, clearing landslides and building up the track with timber etc. About one hour from Koefa the tractor was confronted by a large rock, which meant the end of the line for the tractor.
We were greeted by the people of Koefa when we arrived and they all wanted to shake our hands. The Nationals carried our bags, etc from the tractor to the village.
After a quick look at the school site we decided to mark out the building and position the stump holes. After 2 ½ hours all 65 holes had been dug and the corner stumps set. There were at least 40 Nationals digging holes with spades, digging sticks and hands.
Next day, with the help of the Nationals, we had all the stumps set and cut to height and the bearer, and joist and two sections of the walls finished, all from round bush timbers. At this stage we were asked if we would also build a medical centre.
By the eleventh day, the 75 ft by 24 ft school, consisting of two large rooms, office and storeroom, was finished and the children used the school for the first time and by the thirteenth day the medical centre was completed, excepting for some external vee crimp, three doors and frames which were not available.
During this time Graham Flavel reports his team built two teachers’ houses which were built to a sketch made on site to suit the iron materials available while Nationals were in the forest cutting saplings for stumps, walls and roof. It was an experience working with Kapur, Blackwood and Mahogony ranging in diameter from 2½” to 4“ diameter, all freshly stripped of bark and nailed together with 6”, 4” and 3” nails.
There were a variety of Nationals helping at times from fathers, sons and small children, all very intelligent and good workers.
The floors of the teachers’ houses consisted of Pandanis tree bark 8” wide, 1½” thick of varying lengths and very strong. The walls were covered in woven bamboo in various patterns which look very attractive when finished. The windows were 8 blade movable louvres in a timber frame.
All participating volunteers were full of praise for the hospitality shown by the De La Sal Diocese headed by Father Abel and Bros Brendon and Jack and to all the Nationals of the villages of Koefa and Kamulai, and of course to Bianco Builders Hardware who sponsored six volunteers.
We were proud to be associated with this FAIM project which none of us will forget and we will talk about it for a long time.
Rotary Club of Morialta also talked about the project for a long time. On 3 June 1992, the South Australian members of the team spoke to the Club at an Appreciation Night. Presentations were made to them, and Nick Bianco was presented with a Paul Harris Fellowship for his generous support. At District Changeover on 28 June 1992, District Governor John Hardy presented Rotary Club of Morialta with two awards for the project – Best International Project and Best Vocational Service Project.
From Page 117 A Ten Year History 1984 – 1994