In May, MAF flew a charter flight from Mt Hagen to Mougulu to transport a sawmill to the community there. Although the sawmill barely left enough room for passengers, the 45 minute flight was accompanied by another passenger from Care International, who was bringing care packages for the people.

The earthquakes destroyed many of the food gardens local people depend on to grow their vegetables and a lot of people looked hungry. It seemed incongruous when a Bible School student thanked MAF for volleyballs and nets! But on reflection, it’s good that the local people can have fun, especially since they have been through such tragedy.

The local people told us they were going to use the sawmill to cut timber for a new high school. Children are their future, and if they are able to get an education, it will make a difference to the whole community.

The sawmill will be used to help their school and station and the community. The delivery of the sawmill also marks a change in the response to the destruction caused by the earthquakes. After many relief flights to provide food and sanitation to the communities and thorough assessments of the midterm and longterm needs, the focus now is on rebuilding the local infrastructure of the communities.

The CEO of Ok Tedi Development Foundation (OTDF), in partnership with others, decided that the focus should be to assist the combined communities get back on their feet and rebuild. Local communities are very appreciative of this and other development initiatives which help build resilience and provide the training that will help them take long term care of the equipment.

The Porta saw will mean that timber will not have to be brought in at great cost. Timber will be milled on site for rebuilding earthquake-affected health and education infrastructure at a number of villages. Even if it becomes neseccary to ship the sawmill and the milling team—or the already cut timber—to these villages, it will still be a huge saving compared to the purchase of timber and then shipping it. The local timber is perfect for framing—it is insect resistant and saves introducing risk of imported untreated product.

It is great to see so many different organisations and individuals combining forces to help rebuild destroyed infrastructure and fellowship. People will be trained to operate the sawmill and to take ownership of the equipment. A new generation will be empowered to move forward by the building of facilities for children to complete high school.

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