Madagascar/Masikoro and Bara
When we landed in Andranofotsy under heavy rain, the village seemed to be completely deserted even though the huts were in good shape and the fields were cultivated and ready to be harvested. Eventually we found one woman who told us that the village had been attacked by “dahalos” (cattle thieves) and the villagers were scared and hiding in the mountains. As no one else was there, we decided to fly to another village. We prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to guide us to another village where the people would welcome us.
Since I had to fly south to refuel, we took off in that direction. We soon saw a village, called Milenaka belonging to the Bara tribe, and landed, still under heavy rain. The people told us they had been waiting for a long time for someone to come and share with them about Jesus. They were thirsty to hear about God. This is not the first time that God has prevented us from going to a village we planned to visit; but instead led us in another direction where He had already prepared the people. The next day, the people in Milenaka didn’t want us to leave and made us promise to come back.
A messenger from Ambondrolova came running to ask if we could come to his village to meet with a former witch doctor named Resola who had given his life to Christ and was asking to be baptized. Due to bad health, he couldn’t walk very far. So, we flew to Ambondrolova and interviewed Resola to see if he had understood what it meant to be baptized. Resola was then baptized by a local pastor who had come with us on the trip. What joy! It is a privilege to witness how the Lord is working in the lives of people who are desperate and lost to bring light, freedom, hope and a future!
Jean-Christophe Gallarato, Pilot
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Helimission is investing in a sustainable future. A good example of this is the training of local helicopter mechanics such as Rendy and Samuel. In the foreseeable future, we also intend to train local pilots, which means a new era for Helimission.
Last January, Tim Shunk and I travelled to Jakarta for several days to visit Rendy, one of our trainee helicopter mechanics. We had a talk with the director of the school, who gave us specific information about the training. I really enjoyed our visit to the training department as well as the training concept itself. Rendy will finish his training at the end of 2017 and then return to our team. He will receive further training on our helicopters from experienced mechanics at our hangar. The goal is that Rendy, as well as Samuel, who has already completed this training, will be able to carry out maintenance independently in the foreseeable future.
With Samuel, we have someone on our base who has been working as a licensed helicopter mechanic for two years. The training of local employees has many advantages: they do not need any visas or work permits, they do not have absences due to long furloughs, they speak the local language fluently, etc. Furthermore, such employees receive the possibility of a sustainable education that offers them an existential foundation. It is a classic “win-win” situation. The long-term commitment shows the mutual loyalty. In addition, I am convinced that this type of mutual respect and trust becomes a testimony for everyone, both within and outside of Helimission.
What however pleases me most is to see how local staff members begin to support each other in their work. Please pray for Samuel and Rendy, that they will be part of our team here in Wamena for many years! We also thank God for all our other faithful staff members whom we employ at our base.
Micha and Barbara Berger, Pilot
What do water tablets and a radio station have in common? Both are very important for life far away from civilization! The village of Onara is so remote that it is only reachable by a 4-5 day boat trip from the nearest city, when the wind is not too strong. It is also extremely dangerous.
Two doctors, Dr. Randrianaina and Dr.
Deramalala, carried out some training
sessions and patient consultations at the
clinic in Onara. In addition, they taught
the local nurses about the use of the
newly developed water purifi cation tablets.
It is their job to manage the “tablet
bank” … quite a responsibility. A box of
10 tablets, each of which can clean up
to 20 liters of water, is sold for around $0.30 USD, which is an affordable price for every family.
The clinic’s radio station was broken. One look at the wiring and the condition it was in showed that lots of people had tried to fix it, but had not been successful. The Malagasy are, on the one hand, very creative and often finds ways to fix things that we would have long thrown in the rubbish; on the other hand, most Malagasy do not have the appropriate training, basic knowledge or skills in electrics or electronics.
SALFA is an organization which gives local people medical training and builds health stations in remote areas. They often place Christian families as teachers and nurses to support the children and mothers who suffer from lack of education. In the North-west region, which has an Islamic background, education is very welcome. We pray for these villagers to understand that Jesus can give us living water – not just water purification tablets.
Christophe Niederhauser, Pilot
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
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