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Our Stories

Being Part of a Family Initiative

by | Apr 20, 2020 | Solar Installation, What CRMF Does

CRMF’s recent Solar Project saw CRMF’s Electronic Technician, Gollinson; MAF Pilot, Tim and I with a special cargo of 32 Solar panels (10kWp) headed straight for Mougulu, a remote community in the Western Province of Papua New Guinea. This was a first-time trip to Mougulu for Gollinson and I so there was a lot of anticipation. Lukas, the manager for this solar project had gone ahead with the solar railings and other solar equipment and was waiting for our arrival. The travel time from Goroka to Mougulu is close to one hour. This gave Tim, our awesome MAF pilot, plenty of time to tell us about some of the amazing scenery of the area as we flew by.

Pilot Tim, from MAF PNG.

This was Tim’s second flight for the day to Mougulu and he explained that during the early hours of the morning when he had flown Lukas down to Mougulu, the sky was clear enough to see famous Mount Bosavi (Southern Highlands Province), but for this second trip, he had to navigate past a number of thick clouds whilst at the same time factor in the heavy winds. It is clear to see how the quickly changing conditions in the PNG skies could present a challenge for pilots.
We did not have the chance to view Mount Bosavi, but we did see a picture-perfect view of layers after layers of blue-mountains and ever-flowing veins of rivers connected and flowing alongside rugged terrains with lush greenery that seemed to spread out like tapestry over the vast land. Quite a stunning view.
Upon our arrival, when the people of Mougulu heard the MAF plane approaching to land on their airstrip they all ran excited and stood waiting expectantly to see what MAF had brought. New visitors are uncommon in Mougulu so it is a norm to see the excited crowds of people around the area surround the airstrip whenever a plane arrives.
Also waiting at the airstrip to greet us was Lukas and second son to Tom and Salome Hoey, Rob Hoey. Rob later on told us a fun fact that when his father, Tom Hoey first arrived at Mougulu as the first missionary, he found out that the people in Mougulu – the Bedamuni people, also known as the Biami people – were already familiar with airplanes from World War II and they even had a name in their local language for it calling it “Udasu” which translates as “big droning thing”. And when the first pilot landed on the Mougulu airstrip which Tom Hoey and the Mougulu community had built, they also gave a name for the pilot saying, “Udasu ganonesisu dunu!” which translated as, “big flying drone, all knowing man.” Till to this day, the Biami people still refers to pilots and planes as “Udasu ganonesisu dunu!”
Gollinson Wena and Lukas Schadegg putting up the railings for the solar panels.
After Tim helped us offload things from the plane he took off and both CRMF Electronic Technicians got straight to work to put up the railings for the Solar Panels. The next day when CRMF Technical staff, Ishmael joined us, he brought in the German brand Tesvolt solar batteries and SMA inverters with the help of MAF. The team worked tirelessly from morning till afternoon during the 10 days we spent at Mougulu to make sure the solar panels were up, the batteries functioning well and all the cables connected correctly to the solar inverters and solar batteries.

Thomas Hoey with his Uncle Rob Hoey.

Hosting us at Mougulu was the lovely Hoey family – both brother and sister, Sally Lloyd Hoey and Rob Hoey with their nephew, Thomas Hoey (son to Roy Ashely Hoey). Sally, Rob and Thomas are children and grandchild to long-time missionaries – Tom and Salome Hoey from Australia. Both Tom and Salome Hoey have lived and served as missionaries in the Western Province of Mougulu for a span of almost 52 years. So Mougulu has become home to them and likewise for their children and grandchildren.
As you may recall from the previous article about the Mougulu survey for a solar installation: (https://crmf.org.pg/the-advantages-of-a-solar-system-in-mougulu/)

Tom Hoey worked as a Bible Translator and was involved in translating the complete Bible into the language of the Bedamuni people. Salome Hoey who attended a 6-week nurse training took what she had learned and both herself and Tom began humanitarian work and from there established the first and only Health Centre located in Mougulu. Both are actively involved in the community of Mougulu. They played a huge role in the development of the Mougulu airstrip and went on to develop 7 other airstrips outside the remote areas of Mougulu making it easy for those communities to receive and access much-needed services. They also set up the Biami Radio station, Bible School, Elementary school, Primary school and the Mougulu Hospital which is currently known as the EBCPNG Health Centre.

 

They are still in the process of other initiatives for this remote community and want to continue doing so for the people of Mougulu. Carrying on the legacy and the vision and dream that the Lord has placed within both Tom and Salome Hoey are their children and grandchildren.

As a result of the Hoey family’s initiative to provide essential services for education and health; surrounding villages and communities consider Mougulu a central place they can go in order to have access to education and health.

Sally Lloyd Hoey.

The Mougulu Health centre consists of only four Community Health Workers, including three male and the one Female CHW. Provided in the facility is a delivery room for the mothers. And separate from their rooms is a common kitchen, shower and toilet for the mothers. Next door is the main health post which accommodates other ill patients including separate rooms with beds and mosquito nets. They also have a stock of drugs which they get supplied from Rumginea Hospital (Western Province).

Rob Hoey with Norm Turtle and John Baskerville working on the hydro. 

Norm Turtle and John Baskerville.

ECPNG Health Centre operations was dependent on the hydro-plant, but unfortunately, in 2015 a landslide demolished the hydro-plant. The Hoey family with the help of the local community along with a volunteer worker from Australia – John Baskerville and former CRMF Technician, Norm Turtle were currently working together to rebuild the hydro-plant. During our stay there we had the opportunity to help where we could with the rebuilding process.

Whilst waiting for the new hydro-plant, the Health Centre was using a combination of diesel generator and a 12-volt solar panel. Both, however, at times were unreliable and have caused many problems for the staff and patients. These problems range from the inability to run life-saving oxygen concentrators, ceiling fans and more concerning is the fact that the vaccines go to waste as they are not stored at the right temperature because of limited power. In addition to this, is the expense on anti-venom vaccines and five 200 Litre diesel fuel drums including additional transport costs of the fuel by plane since there are no accessible roads.

The ECPNG Health Center running on their newly installed solar system.

Community Health Worker, Paul said the Health Centre operates 24 hours a week, from day to night, and it draws three to eight thousands of patients each month seeking medical treatment and assistance even from remote aid post that is nearby and even distant communities.

Another Community Health Worker, Mary Nema said that night emergencies are usually difficult because there is limited light available, so they would depend on torch lights or other form of light to be able to see what they are doing.

In conclusion Mary said that both her and her fellow community health workers greatest happiness and relief is to help their patients the best they can and at the end of the day see their patients fully healthy and happy, but with an unreliable power source it can be a huge challenge and an intense process for both themselves and their patients.
We truly appreciate and applaud Mary and Paul plus other remote Community Health Workers who have to work under such pressure to ensure the health and welfare of their patients are being met despite the many challenges.

We are so blessed that CRMF could play a part in that by providing a consistent, high quality and dependable power source through the solar installation that will provide a 24/7 power source.

At the heart of this Solar Project is the dedication and love of the Hoey family for the people of Mougulu. They have not only met the physical needs but also the spiritual needs of the Bedamuni/Biami people by living out the Word of God for their families and friends in Mougulu and the surrounding communities. This solar install for a solar system was made possible through the help and support from the Hoey family, supporting Churches and generous individuals who funded this project.

Lukas Schadegg, Ismael Doroware and Gollinson Wena.

CRMF considers it a huge honour to have had the opportunity to make positive contributions to the amazing initiatives the Hoey family have introduced and continue to build on to make important changes for the Bedamuni people in Mougulu. The recent solar installation will ensure the vital health services at their ECPNG Health Centre can continue to meet the needs of the people in Mougulu.
Despite the challenges faced by the solar installation team in the area of logistics for the transport of lithium batteries along with the varying hot and rainy weather conditions, the CRMF team were able to complete the solar installation process successfully. And of course, the completion of the Solar Project in Mougulu for the ECPNG Health Centre wouldn’t have been made possible without the continued support and help of MAF who provided safe transportation for the lithium batteries and also safe transport for our CRMF team.