Keeping Flying Doctors on Air

Can you see the airstrip?

Can you see the airstrip?

For people living in the remote and isolated rural communities of Papua New Guinea – a country of rugged mountain ranges, dense jungles, lowland swamps, meandering rivers and torrential rain – maintaining radio contact with the outside world can quite literally mean the difference between life and death. Clean water, food, medical supplies and equipment, and other essentials are brought to local communities by light aircraft using airstrips that can be challenging at best.

Radio equipment onsite

Radio equipment onsite

Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) has been operating in PNG for over 50 years, providing a lifeline for more than 300 rural communities from its bases around the country and its headquarters in Mt Hagen. Complementing MAF’s provision of essential air transport, Christian Radio Missionary Fellowship (CRMF), part of the MAF International family, provides technical support for a growing network of over 850 high-frequency radios across PNG, which enables MAF to communicate directly with isolated communities, to find out what supplies are needed, arrange deliveries and receive vital airstrip information and weather reports.

Patching the radio cables

Patching the radio cables

However, due to the rapid pace of technological change over the past few years, the wireless network between the CRMF compound and the MAF base in Goroka had become out of date, slow and unreliable. With CRMF co-ordinating more than 200 emergency medical evacuations every year, a lack of adequate radio facilities would put lives at risk. With this in mind, Wantok Support donated £1,000 to MAF for the upgrade of its wireless network unit.

Carolyn Flanagan is Partnership Manager at MAF UK. Speaking at Wantok Support’s AGM in May this year, Ms Flanagan gave a presentation on MAF’s work and on how the donation has helped. ‘With Wantok Support’s donation, MAF have now upgraded the wireless network connection, which should last for another 7 to 10 years,’ she said. ‘This has enabled a stable and reliable internet connection to track the aircraft flight paths and the communication links are reliable for checking email alerts and report updates at HQ in Mt Hagen.’

Transporting produce for remote communities

Transporting produce for remote communities

The service can be the difference between life and death

The service can be the difference between life and death

In addition to providing healthcare and saving lives, MAF’s flights also help to promote educational, economic and community development, peace building, evangelism, pastoral care and spiritual support. A key part of the work involves bringing the produce of rural communities to market, enabling them to participate in the wider economy. In PNG, MAF serves some 40 communities that produce coffee but have no road access. This means that income flows back to these communities, helping them meet their essential needs.

For more information about MAF International’s work in PNG, go to www.maf.org.pg.

On June 7th, 2013, posted in: General News by