More than Essays – Insights into a Community Depending on their Airstrip
In preparation for this year’s exam, Glenda gave her 10th-graders the topic “If Aeroplanes Had Never Come“. Printed below are two complete essays and a few more quotes from other students about what life in their valley would be like if aeroplanes had never come.
If Aeroplanes Had Never Come by Glen
My home valley is on the Northern side of a craggy mountain and that craggy mountain is found in Tekin Valley. The airline that helps people in the Tekin Valley is MAF and the small Airvan plane. The airline brings in businessmen’s cargo, sick patients and takes out the vegetables we send to other places and it brings pastors in and out too.
I think if aeroplanes had never come to our valley most of the businesses would close down. I think the people in this valley would find it hard to get store goods and most of their vegetables would go bad. Most of the people in this valley would never earn money because their only way to earn money is through the aeroplanes’ services. I think my family and community would face a lot of suffering. My body would be trembling with fear if no aeroplanes were landing in our valley.
I would like to say thanks because sixty years ago we didn’t get aeroplane services, but now aeroplanes are landing in our valley.
I think that when there is a crisis it goes back to normal when the aeroplanes bring people to help us.
If Aeroplanes Had Never Come by Nasep
If there had been no aeroplanes coming to my valley from the past until now, I think I would not have a good living standard today. I would be someone who does not know how anything works and also what kind of thing anything is. My family, my clan and I would be living in the dark age without a single glimmer of light. This means there would be no knowledge of God and no technology available in my valley.
Unfortunately, I would be living without basic services. I would be struggling harder and harder wearily carrying my brimful bag of kaukau (sweet potatoes) from one end of the valley to the other. Luckily, the aeroplane has landed in my valley and started making things easier. It has lifted the burden of carrying heavy things. My valley is located in the thick, dense bush at Gapka, one of the small villages near Bimin.
This is how the first plane came. I heard a strange noise buzzing overhead like a huge bird talking to me. I thought it was an enemy coming to attack but it didn’t. My family and I were totally blank in our minds when we saw that strange thing. Fear clutched my heart so strongly that we tried to shoot the plane. Suddenly, a white man came out and told us, “Please, please, don’t shoot us! We are coming to bring good news to you.“ We were utterly shocked because it was new to us.
I am very pleased to have an aeroplane today. In the past we need to live like a child whose father has died. Now, fortunately, I am living in a better life with hope in God and a lot of things which help me to survive.
If there had been no MAF aeroplanes coming to our valley, then we would be like a desert, waiting for the rain to come. This means that we would be primitives, not knowing God and without civilisation. We would not know about the modern technologies. Because of no proper supply of health facilities,(…) We would not have a proper education. – Demala
In such a bushy and mountainous village like this I can’t imagine what it would be like if MAF had never come. Nowadays we have good buildings which are made of milled timber, plywood, roofing sheets and nails which can last for a long period of time compared to the past houses which were made of bush materials and never lasted long. – Clay John
This is what my village would be like if the plane had not landed in my valley. As men we would wear a penis gourd and women would wear grass skirts. If it hadn’t landed we would not have bush knives or an axe. These things are essential for survival and with all those materials it makes our work easier. Finally, I am gratefully appreciative and say thank you to God for the plane that landed in my valley because it has provided us with all sorts of modern things such as education, health and very importantly the Word of God. – Ralph
The first airline that came here was MAF. This airline helps us with many things such as sheets of roofing iron, iron posts and other building materials. It also helps us by bringing manufactured foods into this valley. It also brings us the clothes that we are wearing now. However, if the plane had never come to this valley, the people of this valley would be suffering now. People might be wearing traditional costumes. They might also have no aid-post to get treatment, no church to attend and no schools to learn at. People in this valley might not know who God is and what a school is. We, people in this valley now know most of these things and we learn many new things that we didn’t know before. – Gondo
Imagine what life for YOU would be like if your village or town was cut off from civilisation for whatever reason…
The exam papers arrived in time for the students of remote Oksapmin High School at Tekin. A pastor took the sealed box on a PMV (Public Motor Vehicle) from Tabubil to Kiunga. This was a wise decision as MAF PNG currently faces an immense pilot shortage and would not have been able to schedule a flight from Tabubil to Tekin in time for the exams. Central Aviation, another third level airline operating in this part of the country, was able to deliver the exam papers three days before the actual exam when a cargo flight was going to Tekin with store goods in and vegetables out of the remote valley. Praise the Lord!
Glenda reported back that the exam went well. The students wrote on two topics, firstly they wrote an adventure story where they were the hero or heroine; then a discussion about wether politicians should buy their votes. With the national election just around the corner the latter topic was quite up to date.
Happiness is a Chair Provided – When the Aeroplane comes
Glenda’s Facebook posts in the past months give proof of the fact that the airstrip is so essential for the remote Oksapmin High School at Tekin.
19 January 2017
“They’re loading the plane for my flight back into Tekin now. I’ve enjoyed my break and am looking forward to the new school year. Paul and Ryan will be the pilots and Ludmer and Jacob are doing the loading.“
24 January 2017
“MAF planes have been in and out of our small airstrip many times in the last few days taking our students who graduated last year off to new schools within Sandaun Province to do their year 11 and 12. Sad and exciting! Tekin is a long way from Provincial Headquarters. Planes have taken 13 students to Aitape, 13 to Green River, 2 or 3 to Vanimo (all very hot lowland places totally different from our mountain valley!) and 9 to Telefomin.
This year there is an MAF Twin Otter aircraft and three pilots based at Telefomin which has been a tremendous help with the movements. None of the parents like planes swooping in and taking their kids away, but they know they are in safe hands and if emergencies occur it will be possible to go to them or have them flown back home.“
3 February 2017
“High School education is in high demand in PNG so I have 69 students in my dirt floor grade 9 English classroom. The behaviour and cooperation of these keen young students is exemplary!“
28 February 2017
“Only in rural PNG would someone text you saying “I’m bringing 6kg of books for your school on the plane today!” In rural areas where we normally pay air freight on everything weight is more important than number. Thanks Mandy Glass and David and Pam Condie for the books and for not charging us freight. These kids hadn’t seen pop up science books before. The earthquakes and volcanoes really came to life.“
7 April 2017
“Young Papua New Guinea learns to debate in English class, girls too, of course! Maybe a political career started today!“
12 June 2017
“Pau Woodington flew in from Wewak this morning in the MAF Caravan. We were delighted to receive a big load. Thank you, Brian and Rachael Montei and boys, for the set of encyclopedias and other books. Like your boys, Rachael, our students love animals so the book selection was great. The new plastic chairs also came. Now the students won’t need to carry their chairs from room to room. Happiness is a chair provided!“
Story Mandy Glass. Photos Glenda Giles