THE ALL GIRLS iRAMP TEAM   Leave a comment

By Janet Rowaro
The iRAMP fuel and maintenance trip to the Western Province in the beginning of December this year was an eye opener for me and my co-worker Sabi Auwo. Flying into three remote airstrips in Western Province (Debepari, Fuma and Mougulu) via MAF to deliver fuel on the 09th December 2015 was quite an experience. My trip to these three airstrips was because the program’s mechanic Sabi was not feeling well on that day. So I took that opportunity to actually fly into those airstrips in which I have heard so much about from the other project officers who went there for the fuel and maintenance trips.

Ten minutes after the plane left Kiunga Airport, I peeped out of the window of the small MAF (Caravan) plane to get a glimpse of the landscape below. A mesmerising horizon of vast, green and swampy vegetation with endless canopies of trees came clear and the rising smoke from the gardens fires was the only indication of human habitation. 

It was roughly after 20 minutes when the first airstrip (Debepari) came to view. As the plane landed and came to a halt, I realised that there were quite a number of people from the nearby villages of the airstrip who heard the sound of the plane and made their way to the parking area of the airstrip. When we touched down at the airstrip, Sibert the Airstrip Maintenance Volunteer (AMV) was already standing on the side of the airstrip with five empty 20 litre fuel containers. With the help of the two pilots and the AMVs plus the locals we filled the empty containers and while I did the lawn mower inspection. After spending 40 minutes on ground we flew off to the next airstrip which was Fuma. 

Flying to Fuma from Debepari took about 15 minutes. Again we were greeted by a group of young people, especially kids. Just seeing their smiling faces reminded me that no matter how disadvantaged these kids are, they are content with what they have. But evidently they are missing out on a lot of real tangible government services since their villages are not linked by road.

 After we were done with fuel delivery in Fuma, we flew to Mougulu which is much more developed than the other two airstrips. In each of the three airstrips we took approximately about 40 minutes on the ground and then flew back to Kiunga at around 2pm. 

In all the three airstrips that we flew into, we were greeted by people especially, kids from the surrounding villages that came to the airstrip upon hearing the sound of the plane. They came not because they were expecting a visitor or a cargo but upon hearing the sound of the plane which is their only means of transportation in the area.  

The smiling faces of the people that I came across in these airstrips made me feel satisfied of the little things I do in my career, especially knowing that my input in this program is making a huge impact on the lives of these people. 

It is only through maintaining these airstrips that the locals in this part of the country are able to see some form basic government services in their area. When these airstrips are maintained planes are able to land to do medivac’s, fly in school supplies, medical supplies and teachers and health officers into these remote locations. Thanks to the Rural Airstrips Agency (RAA) and its partner ATprojects for ensuring that these airstrips are maintained on a regular basis for planes to land.

  

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Posted December 31, 2015 by atprojectsblogs in iRAMP Programme

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