Rural workers rely on air service

Enabling rural schools to complete school terms through donating food supplies is one thing Mission Aviation Fellowship does to keep classes going.

Regardless of the restricted flights due to PNG’s current fuel crisis, Tekin Primary School in West Sepik Province received an MAF charter flight containing 902 kilograms of food supplies for the community’s school teachers and health workers.

Erick Yakz, from the school’s Board of Management, said the delivery was essential to supporting the key workers in their remote community, which is unreachable by road.

“No airlines were willing to provide such service at this very point of the country's fuel crisis, MAF were the only ones who heard our cry for help. Thank you MAF for serving the rural people through the name of God, accomplishing your real mission and vision of MAF operations in Papua New Guinea.”

MAF shared that public servants like teachers and health workers make big personal sacrifices to work in isolated areas. With limited produce available, rural workers rely on food delivery by plane.

“If by chance I did not receive these goods, my teachers will close the school … or it will shut down for an indefinite period because of teachers’ welfare—such basic needs and wants are not available.

“We have only had four weeks left for our term break and I really felt the pain of it—for missing this four weeks’ lessons—so I pleaded for your respectful help. Importantly I don't want to fail my students, therefore, I must sustain my teachers by providing them with their basic rations.”

MAF Pilot, Piet Muilwijk, flew the food supplies and explained that Tekin is one of the most challenging airstrips in PNG.

“It’s not so much the length and slope, but because of the winds. It’s located in a narrow valley right at the bottom of a very steep ridge which goes vertically up for around four hundred metres,” he said.

“This often causes strong ‘rotor’ winds falling over the ridge which result in very challenging landing and take-off conditions.”

Despite the challenge, the highly trained MAF pilots have touched down on Tekin’s 530 metre airstrip 39 times so far this year, sustaining vital education and health services in the community.

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