In the mountainous terrain of Papua, it is very difficult, sometimes even impossible for people in some of the villages to get primary health care. Instead, we bring medical aid to them in the form of a “bush clinic”.
On one of these bush clinics, I flew several government health workers to different villages for them to give immunizations. At the time there was a big drought and smoke from land clearing burns had caused a lot of disruptions to my flight route. By the time we reached the last drop off point, the village of Wilinmo, the low hanging clouds mixed with smoke made a return flight impossible. The medical team and I had to stay overnight in the village.
After the team had conducted their “consultations” we were shown our night quarters. I stayed overnight in a “honai” (a traditional round mud hut with a straw roof) along with all the men, sleeping around the fire. We were served a delicious meal of rice, egg and pear squash cooked over the fire which was in the middle of the hut. After the men talked late into the night, the pastor shared a bible story and we went to sleep. This was my first experience of sleeping in a “honai”. I wasn’t used to giving up my soft bed for a hard floor!
Thanks to our Satellite telephone, I phoned my wife the next morning and got an up to date weather report for our base. The smoke and clouds had moved on so that after a short flight, we landed safely at our base again.
Ben Hopkinson, Pilot
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In certain Malagasy traditions, being born on the wrong day brings curses on the family, parents and relatives. By tradition, such newborns are abandoned in the forest or desert area and left to die.
Missionaries have reacted to this terrible tradition. They have built child and baby centers to take care of these “cursed” children. Laila, a missionary with the Norwegian Missionary Society, built one of these centers in the region of Vorehe in the Southwest of the island of Madagascar. She adopted some of these abandoned children and gave them an education.
At first the people expected bad things to happen in her life and waited for the spirits to punish her, but over the years, they realized that the love of Christ is more powerful than evil spirits. Soon a church was planted in Vorehe and further churches developed in the whole area. Thanks to Helimission, the work in this hard to reach area has grown over the last two decades.
Many people in our western culture believe that these “natural” tribes live a peaceful and happy life “like in paradise” and that missionary work destroys these “valuable cultures.” What is so wrong about stopping the tradition of baby’s being abandoned to die a brutal death; killed by wild animals or eaten by ants? How can people condemn this? (You can read more on this topic in Helimission’ s brochure “Mission Under Attack”) Many missionary stations are so remote from any civilization with health care and other facilities, that knowing a helicopter is available in case of emergency makes a big difference. Thanks to every single donor for making this possible!
Christophe Niederhauser, Pilot
Helimission recently assisted with the installation of a repeater station on the top of the tallest mountain between Wamena and the coastal town of Sentani. The goal for this station is to establish a link to the fiber-optic internet that recently became available in Sentani. This high speed internet would bring a vast improvement in communication capability for the mission community in Wamena!
This mountain top is called Aloma Kono by the locals. At 12,303 ft. above sea level it is usually closed in cloud except for in the early morning hours. It was a challenge to find a suitable spot on which a repeater station with solar panels, lightning protection, and parabolic dishes could be built. Another challenge was finding a place where the heli could actually land, and all this at a height where our helicopter was operating close to its performance limits.
From our base in Wamena to the top of the mountain was only a 13-minute flight. To climb this mountain on foot would have taken several days. There is no village close by at the foot of the mountain with a path to the top. It would be a technical climb for an experienced crew. One by one, these obstacles could be overcome, thanks be to our Lord, and the site is now essentially established to include a level helipad.
David Haag and his team of local Papuan young men did the actual work of building this site. There are still several challenging steps to go before the new fiber-optic internet connection to Wamena is realized. The main one being establishing the transmitting site on Mount Cyclops that overlooks Sentani. Thanks for your continued prayers and faithful support for this development project!
Tom Hans, Base Manager
That which we in the west take for granted, most of the women in Papua know nothing about …. until recently. Helimission in Wamena now has an ultrasound machine to serve pregnant women in the bush.
In Papua, women in the bush are usually left to their fate when problems arise with pregnancy and child birth. Helimission works closely together with Dr. Winjanda, a gynecologist from the Netherlands, to help women in the bush with obstetric problems. The tribal women will not breast feed their newborn until the placenta comes out. They do not know that this would actually help the placenta to come out.
In the past, we have not been able to see what is going on in the womb because we did not have an ultrasound machine. With the help of three donors, a machine has been purchased that is mobile
and we can use in the helicopter. Dr Wijanda and I have been using the machine in the bush as well as on our staff wives who are pregnant. We can check the growth rate of the child and give a
general health prognosis of the child in the womb. We also can monitor the birth process in the field. This has and will be helping the health of these very needy women who have such a high
mortality rate during child birth.
Recently we went to the village of Mbambisik where a woman who’d had a normal birth was still bleeding heavily. Dr. Wijanda treated her onsite, far away from any clinic or hospital. This way the mother and child did not have to leave the village which would have required another flight to get them back. Praise the Lord we have this capability!
Michael Stephens, Pilot with medical training
Finally, after 12 years of training to become a helicopter mechanic and pilot, I sat in the cockpit of a Helimission machine and flew my first official flight. Tom Hans, our chief pilot, and I flew to the upper Seng valley to check out an airstrip. The people of Soholune welcomed us with lots of singing and dancing, everyone was excited.
These people have been working on this airstrip for about 8 years, but unfortunately there is a lot more work to be done before the first plane can land. This did not seem to worry them at all. They have enough time. They just said they will keep on working!
While I was talking to some of the men, they told me how happy they are that the Gospel has come to them even though the first two missionaries were killed in their village in 1968. These two pioneers were Stan Dale and Phil Masters. Their story, which is definitely worth reading, is written in the book “Lords of the Earth” by Don Richardson (ISBN 978-076-421-560-5)*.
It gives me great pleasure to serve these people in the heart of Papua with the helicopter. For many we are the only contact to the outside world other than days and days on foot through the jungle to reach civilization. I love to fly to remote places such as these and find people who know, honor, praise and worship God as I do.
This is possible through the hard work of the pioneer missionaries, many of whom can only do the work they do thanks to the support of Helimission.
Familie Matt und Vasanthy Weber, Pilot
For five years, Helimission has been flying every month to Oshka, in the Tarra tribal area, with a team made up of an evangelist and a doctor or nurse. While evangelist Ben Skaggs teaches, patients are treated in the room next door. According to the doctor, 50% of all illnesses (e.g. worms) could be avoided if everyone were able to drink clean water. That’s how the idea was born to drill a well in the village.
Markus, our pilot, flew the project manager Taylor Simpson and myself to Oshka with the materials prepared for the well. Taylor is a technical support missionary at Soddo Christian Hospital. Due to the strong rains the night before, it was not easy to find an appropriate spring. For three days, we set up two wells with a team of six men. The spring water can now only flow out of a water pipe and can no longer be contaminated by men or animals.
Taylor instructed the motivated locals step by step, with the goal that they will drill the next well on their own in the neighboring village. We also wanted to show the connection to the Bible. Using sketches, we explained the water cycle: its evaporation and purification. In the same way, Jesus cleansed us of our sins by his death on the cross, so that we might become pure.
Whether or not this project for a well has been successful will be revealed during the next dry season, when water still flows from the pipes.
Kind regards, Thomas Droz, Mechanic