On Thursday, the 23rd of May, the Twin Otter P2-MFT did a charter flight from Mt Hagen to Mougulu to transport a sawmill and food care packages to the community there.

Also on board were Mandy Glass, MAF PNG’s Communications Officer and Laura Meeks, daughter of our Engineering Manager.

Part 1 of this story was a personal account of the flight by Laura Meeks. You can read it HERE.

Part 2 provides more background information on how this charter flight is going to meet earthquake and rehabilitation needs of the people at Mougulu and the surrounded area.

 

Part 2: Bilums, a Portable Sawmill and Bags of Food

Story by Mandy Glass. Photos Laura Meeks (LM) and Mandy Glass (MG)

 

“We were welcomed warmly and were given beautiful flower necklaces and bilums.“

As soon as we disembarked the Twin Otter after landing at Mougulu, the wives of two Bible School students presented Laura and I with the bilums and flower necklaces as thank-you gifts for donations the school received one week earlier by another MAF flight: Solar lights and tarpaulins, Bibles, guitars and tambourines, soccer balls and volleyballs, hinges, padlocks, saws, and spanners, etc. All useful items to help maintain the Bible School’s buildings and the fellowship after the physical and spiritual destruction caused by the recent earthquakes. 

Laura receiving a handmade bilum by delegates from the Bible School (MG)

 

The donations were funded by congregations of the German Liebenzell Mission which has a long and strong connection to the ECPNG churches in the area. Aviamp based German missionaries Gerhard and Brigitte Stamm then purchased this variety of practical utensils, enough to bless and encourage the congregations of three communities, the Mougulu Bible School is one of the receivers. 

Being of German background myself and good friends with the Stamms I became the liaison person between them and the MAF operations team, helping to pack and consign the items, communicating between the partners and now even being blessed with a handmade bilum, seeing the joy and gratefulness of the Bible school delegates with my own eyes.

 

Jason Marsh talking to one of the Bible School students who organised the bilum welcome (MG)

“The people said that they were going to use the sawmill to cut timber for a new high school…“

It was a bit hard for me to find the right people to talk to in order to gather more detailed information. I was directed to an elderly pastor who wasn’t very talkative at all and only came back to me with very little information. I learned from him that the sawmill is “to help our school and station and the community. They are going to cut the timber to build a new High School and also help those needy people.“

Many willing helpers to unload the pieces of the sawmill (MG)

 

The delivery of the sawmill also marks a change in the response to the destruction by the earthquakes. After many relief flights to provide food and sanitation to the communities, thorough assessments of the mid-term and long-term needs, the focus now is on rebuilding the local infrastructure of the communities.

A changed landscape after the earthquakes (LM)

 

In the weeks following the earthquake, Sally Lloyd and Lutheran Missionary Anton Lutz, conducted a needs assessment out of Mougulu in partnership with North Fly Provincial Government Team, World Hope International Australia, the Strickland Bosavi Foundation (that’s the Hoey family in partnership with the Strickland and Bosavi communities working with all of the communities and ECPNG churches) and Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML) who donated the first 50 hours of helicopter flights for immediate response and rescue etc.

Sally Lloyd summarises the outcome, combined efforts and the way forward:

“Ian Middleton, the CEO of Ok Tedi Development Foundation (of OTDF) who in partnership with those partners listed above has decided on a response most suitable to assist the combined communities to get back on their feet and rebuild.

All of the local communities are very appreciative of this and other development initiatives which help to build resilience and local capacity, while under the supervision of the Strickland Bosavi Foundation to ensure adequate training and long-term care of the equipment.

The Porta saw will be used to save having to bring in at great cost timber to be used for building – particularly health and education facilities and staff housing.

Carrying the huge saw blades (MG)

 

One project is the high school at Mougulu which has always been planned to service the whole catchment area. This is now even more urgent: Students having to attend their closest high school in Hela have had to flee from tribal fighting in the major centres back to their destroyed villages. We are urgently needing to make a safe place for them to carry on with their studies, and the communities want this to be Mougulu.

Timber will also be milled on site and used for rebuilding earthquake affected health and education infrastructure at Adumari, Dodomona, Habi, Fuma, Huiya etc. Even if we have to ship the sawmill and the milling team or the already cut timber to these places it is a huge saving compared to the purchase of timber in Kiunga or Mt Hagen and then shipping. We also have perfect local timber for framing which is insect resistant and saves introducing the risk of imported untreated product.“

 

“… and distribute the food to the pregnant mothers and little children.“

Seeing only limited amounts of food bags delivered to the community on this flight, I wanted to inquire  about the current food situation and found a more talkative man explaining to me their gardening concept of the community:

“We have three different kind of gardens: kaukau gardens (sweet potato gardens), yam gardens and banana gardens. For the kaukau and yam gardens, we make fences and leave them to avoid the pigs destroying them. When the earthquake came, the fence has been destroyed and now it was free for the pigs to come in and destroy the plants. So now we don’t have these yam and kaukau gardens to support us. Those banana gardens which were located along the hillsides and cliffs have been destroyed by landslides. At the moment we don’t have the interest to maintain the fence again as the gardens have been already destroyed. Those yams are seasonally and so we wait for another season when it is time again to plant. If we would plant the yams now they won’t produce.“

On board of the charter flight was the Logistic & Operations Officer of the Goroka based PNG branch of a worldwide operating NGO. Her mission was to deliver the bags of food and to give the local Community Health Worker (CHW) instructions on how to distribute the care bags. One big plastic bag contained 7 individual portion bags of 3 kg each. One portion was compiled of 2 1kg bags of rice, 2 cans of tin fish, 500ml oil and 500g sugar and salt.

Unloading one of the bags with the food care packs (MG)

 

The NGO’s Logistic & Operations Officer explained that with these portion bags they would like to reach out to the children with malnutrition and the women that are pregnant at the moment as there are limited supplies.

Paul Isilawa, the Mougulu CHW stated that “MAF has helped a lot flying in supplies for us and also flying those patients from Huya. We also thank the NGO for their support providing food. Like now, we’ve received some food for pregnant mothers and those with disabilities so that we can help them.“

MAF was able to help the Strickland Bosavi Foundation and the NGO to facilitate this Twin Otter flight to meet relief and rehabilitation needs of the communities affected by the earthquake thanks to a generous donation by Wycliffe Australia.

It is great to see so many different organisations and individuals combining forces to rebuild destroyed infrastructure and fellowship. People will be trained to operate the sawmill and to take ownership of the entrusted equipment. A new generation gets empowered to move forward for the sake of their children by building the facilities for them to complete high school in their own area. 

The NGO staff member talking with the local Community Health Worker, Paul Isilawa (MG)