Where it takes a week for news to arrive
Map shows the distance from Goroka to Vanimo
Recently, CRMF was given the opportunity to install 6 two-way HF Radio at the Vanimo Green River Districts. All six of these HF radios were funded by the Project Development Benefit (PDB) at Vanimo. Two of these radios were allocated to Amanab health centre and the Kembratoro health facility.
Both these locations have an airstrip, but the airstrips are currently not serviced. The only other way to get to Amanab is by vehicle, but the normal route they were meant to take had a broken bridge so they had no choice but to take another route from the South which had poor deteriorating road conditions.
A sticky situation
At 4pm the CRMF Workshop Manager, Lukas Schadegg with his team left Vanimo and ventured out on a Land cruiser to Amanab health centre.
Lukas said that the following 30km drive to Amanab turned out to be the most tiring road experience he’s ever made in PNG. The rain during the early hours of the morning turned the dry and dusty road into a boggy road track.
Their driver had to carefully maneuver the vehicle through the rough and muddy road to avoid getting stuck, but eventually the vehicle did get stuck every few hundred meters, and Lukas with the whole team had to get off from the vehicle just to shovel and thrust the Land cruiser out from the mud. This tiresome routine went on until 2:00am in the morning when they all eventually give up and rested for the day.
What it looks like when the land cruiser gets stuck in the boggy road.
It was a few hours around daylight, at 6am when the team continued the process, but fortunately help arrived. A community nearby were kind enough to lend them a helping hand to get the Land cruiser un-stuck from the pool of mud.
There were times along the way that Lukas thought they would get stuck again (and he had really hoped that they wouldn’t), but their driver managed to find a way around the pool of mud as he was very experienced and familiar with the road. This rigorous long journey took a total of 16 hours before they finally made it to Amanab.
Lukas added that if the road was in good condition they would have made it to Amanab within less then 16 hours, but this just shows the challenges that our remote communities face daily when traveling back and forth through this poor road conditions…You can only image what it’s like to be a patient from these surrounding remote communities and desperately needing immediate help and evacuation.
Towards the night Lukas and the team continues to dig out the mud to make way for the vehicle.
The community nearby lends a helping hand to get the Land cruiser unstuck from the mud.
Unreliable phone reception
Whiles doing the radio installation at Amanab, Lukas learnt that the Amanab Station had a Digicel tower that the community depended on to communicate through their mobile devices, but the phone reception was unreliable. They would only receive reception during the day. However, sometimes the reception would also be out for a week. This makes communication with other health facilities very hard for the health centre and patients. But after their new Codan HF radio was installed they are now able to provide reports and communicate around the clock for emergencies to the head office at Vanimo.
After the successful installation at Amanab, Lukas with the team headed for Kembratoro (short Kemby). The vehicle dropped them off from a nearby village where they walked for 8 hours through a tropical rain forest. The track was very muddy and slippery, but the creeks along the way provided great refreshment to their sweaty bodies. The radio kit and tools were carried by the locals from the Jaffar village. The heaviest item from the radio kit was the radio battery which weighed 32kg. This radio was tied firmly around a wooden pole using thick strong bush vines and was carried by two guys who volunteered to carry it.
The 8 hour journey through the tropical bush tracks passing small but refreshing creeks
They used strong and thick bush vines to tie the HF battery to the wooden pole
What it means to have a reliable communication tool
During this trip Lukas came to know Thomas and Belden who were both working for the Catholic run health centre at Kembratoro. They both shared a personal story explaining to Lukas why having a HF radio installed at their remote community would greatly benefit their community.
Belden told Lukas that one of the biggest challenges is the remoteness of the community at Kembratoro. There is no access to road, transportation and even phone reception. Basically, they were completely stuck in isolation and as a young single man, he struggled with the isolation because without any internet and no means of communication tool available it was hard to keep in touch with others and to be kept informed with the latest events, news and happenings going on outside of their remote community. He explained that, “News only arrive here(Kemby) about a week later”. News is normally relayed to them after a week when a person receives the news from the outsides and delivers the news to the community at Kemby.
Thomas also emphasized the importance of a HF radio with a personal story. His wife was pregnant and had complications but it was through a working radio at that time that made it possible to organize a medivec for her to receive the help and assistance that she and her baby so desperately needed.
The new HF radio installed at Kemby will likely cut down the news delay as the Kemby health workers can now communicate directly with the head office at Vanimo to provide updates and also arrange for medivecs.
A wonderful way to end a long adventurous trip
Lukas ended the visit at Kembratoro with a Jesus film event under a beautiful clear sky as the night fell and the clear blue haze of day lifted to reveal the twinkling stars. Towards the end of the Jesus film, Lukas was also given the opportunity to pray with a young man who decided to give his life to Jesus. What a beautiful evening and opportunity to end an adventurous long trip!
God is amazing!! in-spite of the challenges and obstacles along this trip we are grateful to the Lord for His ever-constant protection, peace and strength upon our team and the community that volunteered to help with these installations. The Lord knows the way we take and He already supplies us with what we need (Psalms 23:1). He provided the joy, peace and strength, and even the people and time to accomplish what He called us to do. We praise the Lord that this Radio Installations can benefit the communities of Amanab and Kembratoro in a great way. These remote communities can now be kept informed with the latest news and they can also communicate 24/7 to report medical evacuation for their patients.
We are also grateful to God that even after this long tiresome trip, Lukas still managed to minister to the community at Kemby through the Jesus Film and by the Grace of God a young man came to give his life to the Lord. We pray that God will continue to do great and amazing things in this young man’s life just as He continues to do so in each of our lives.
We are privileged that we can continue to minister to our remote communities and share the love of Christ Jesus through the radio installation service and also through the Jesus Film.
Philippians 1:6 – “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”