This is a story that spans over forty two years and crosses the barriers of race colour and creed.
This is a story of two young boys ,both soldiers , one in the First Pacific Island Regiment in Papua New Guinea , the other in the Australian Army Medical Corp.
The year being 1969 , both young boys aged 19.
The location being the highlands of Papua New Guinea,I was the Australian boy.
In the year1968-1969 an outbreak of influenza was raging through the highlands of Papua.
Myself and thirty other medics from the Australian Army were sent into the highlands of Papua on a Humanitarian mission to go through the highland villages and inoculate the locals in each village against the devastating Influenza raging through the highlands.
My patrol consisted of six members , one being my interpreter by the name of Elijah Leklek
We operated out of a place in the highlands called Menyamya and walked the highlands over many days to reach each village,these villages were isolated and still emerging from the cannibal ways of their culture.
As a young soldier in an alien culture I was overwhelmed and learnt to adapt and learn quickly.
My interpreter Elijah and I developed a very close rapport ,apart from interpreting each dialect in each village he took the time to teach me basic Pidgin English.
When our time was up and I had to return to Australia we had one last day in Port Moresby together.
We tried to enter the Port Moresby Returned Services League club but were denied ,whites only was the rule , so Elijah and I gave that club the arse with much profanity, this was in 1969 , Elijah being a member of their defence force,racism in his own country being practised by white culture.
Well after that rebuttal we decided to hire a car and go sightseeing ,the car we got was an old Volkswagen , a leftover from the second world war.
Well if you can imagine two young boys , one black , one white , speaking Pidgin English and both with a glint in their eyes driving the Moresby peninsula , exploring the markets and enjoying life as two boys can only do , It was a beautiful experience that I have cherished over the years.
Elijah and I developed a relationship that crossed all barriers.
Now where does the story end having crossed 42 years ?
Elijah and I lost contact after I returned to Australia,he pursued his life in the Papua Army
and I pursued mine in the Australian Army.
We developed a special bond in New Guinea.
Elijah promised that his first born son would be named after me, Ian Felton Leklek.
Now 42 years later I have been trying to track down my old mate from the highland villages of New Guinea. To no avail.
I searched the internet and found nothing,then a week ago I found a person by the name Ian Felton Leklek had graduated from the Divine Word University in Madang New Guinea.
He had graduated in Leadership in business management.
I contacted the university and found him.
After 42 years
He is my Papua New Guinea tribal Godson.
Sadly my mate Elijah his father passed away 2 years ago.
My tribal Godson and his mother still remember the Australian soldier who gave him his name.
The family live in a village in the highlands of Papua.
His mother recalls the time and the family now have four members.
I will try to return one day and apart from being a member of the family , being accepted into my God sons tribe.
A friendship forged over 42 years by two boys, no this is not the end of my story.
The story must end the day I meet and embrace my highland native God son.
I have enclosed the letter from my Tribal God son.
I will admit I shed tears through the loss of my friend Elijah,may he rest in peace in his beloved highland village.
My name is YES IAN FELTON LEKLEK and I am ELIJAH LEKLEK’s son who retired from the Army in 1988 at the Rank of SGT.I was born in POM in 1973 and I am now 37 yr s old. My mum & dad always told me that I got my name from an Australian Soldier who was very close to my dad and that was all I know. Unfortunately, dad passed away 2 years ago (2009) after a long battle with illness and was laid to rest in his KOKO Village in the mountain ranges of Unggai in the Eastern Highlands of PNG.
Mum is still alive and currently resides in the village. There are 4 of us
in the family of Elijah Leklek.
IAN FELTON LEKLEK