While flying from Lae up to Ukarumpa last month, Keith was able to tick off one significant event on the ‘experiencing PNG’ list…. a mountain airstrip landing and take-off.
With only one passenger, it was an opportunity to detour slightly and assist a local coffee growing village transport their product to the wholesale buyers in Kainantu, a short drive from Ukarumpa.
On arrival, men and women hauled 45-50 kg bags from various huts surrounding the airstrip, stacking them for the pilot to assess how many could be loaded safely. The more bags, the less is the transport cost per kilo – significant given that from the current K2.70 per kg wholesale price, almost K2.10 will go to cover the transport and handling. The alternative is to transport the goods by foot to a distant road, then by public transport into town to find a buyer – a venture that carries much risk of being taken advantage of or even being robbed.
The growers explained that the price was very low right now so they are stockpiling their harvest in the huts, hoping that the situation may improve. They sell only when necessity demands it. They can essentially feed their families from the other produce of their land, but tools, medicine, school fees, clothing, all require cash.
Below is a two-minute video of the take-off. Prior to loading, the pilot was explaining to his trainee co-worker that, “the down-hill strip has a first, second, and then a third ridge…. and you need to be airborne as you climb the third ridge, then head right towards the mountainside otherwise you won’t make it around the left-hand valley turn.” I reminded them that their passenger was standing right behind them!
Please pray …
- for the skillful pilots who must operate in difficult circumstances on a daily basis.
- thankful that our mission organisation can assist villagers in many practical ways, and that this adds weight to our Gospel ministry