This was a short documentary we filmed in Papua New Guinea highlighting the work of Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) to connect the vastly inaccessible remote locations in the diocese of Aipo Rongo.
We join Bishop Nathan Ingen as he flies with an MAF pilot from Mount Hagen, the largest town in the highlands, to visit three small settlements in a single day: Simbai, Aiome and Koinambe. Bishop Nathan explains how flying in 4-seater MAF Cessna planes is the only way to visit these rural parishes in the remote jungles and help with health and education resources for the people living there. These visits involve some pretty hairy take-offs and landings on some very small jungle airstrips!
First Nathan radios the various settlements from his base at Hagen and checks on the weather. Next the plane leaves from Hagen’s tarmac runway (a luxury in this part of the world) and heads for the first stop, Simbai – a town with no road links to other parts of Papua New Guinea. Here Nathan looks in on a vocational school and primary school, and an adult literacy workshop the church is helping to run. They are greeted by villagers in traditional costumes including one old man with an amazingly tall headdress. Next the plane heads for Aiome and Nathan looks in on the Angican High School which serves a large part of the Jimi and Ramu river valleys – it takes some students two or three days to walk there from their rural homes.
Another short flight takes Nathan to Koinambe, where an even bigger crowd of traditional dancers welcome the visitors. Their dresses included bows and arrows, axes, face paint and giant Bird of Paradise feathers. Birds of Paradise are the national symbol of Papua New Guinea, as made famous by David Attenborough in his documentaries ever since he first visited in the 1950s. Nathan visits the health centre and then finally leaves to return to Mount Hagen. He tells us “MAF is our lifeline. Without MAF we can’t exist” and in such remote places, it’s easy to see why.
Our director Steve was born in PNG and always enjoys a chance to return and film there. At the same time as making this film he completed several other projects, following a wide itinerary and visiting more of the country than ever before with a local media professional assisting him.