Story & Photos by Mandy Glass
Mattresses, blankets, pots, and other store goods appear on the side of the airstrip as the aircraft gets unloaded at Simogu. It all belongs to Michael Aino and his family. “We could go by rugged mountain roads and cross big rivers,” explains Michael before boarding the aircraft at Goroka.
“It takes us two days and two nights to get there. When we schedule a flight with MAF we have chances to just fly over by MAF to Simogu. “The place where I go and serve is a very remote place. There are a lot of rugged mountains and big rivers. My pride and my aim are that I am a rugged mountain ranger because I go and serve in a place where others don’t go and serve. I am proud to serve there because this is my mission.”
Simogu is one of the poorest communities MAF is serving out of Goroka, hardly flying any trade store goods in, or taking out coffee as we do for other communities in the nearby Marawaka Valley. The flight to Simogu takes about 25 minutes. As we get closer to Simogu, fewer roads cut through the terrain. Grassland patches and huge areas of thick forests are making the countryside with its mountain ridges and meandering water streams in the valleys look beautiful from above. To overcome this terrain by MAF plane surely is the easy way.
“My travel into Simogu is to resume classes as a teacher at the Wantakia Community School at Simogu, in the Marawaka Valley. This is my mission,” continues Michael. “We do have around 350 students in the school. We do have three teachers, but I want to add another one. The school goes up to Grade 6, but I am working towards making it up to Grade 8 next year.
Simogu does not have a mobile phone network or an HF radio, which makes communication and flight scheduling for outbound needs challenging. Our MAF pilots know to be flexible when on the ground at Simogu.