Kapal is a remote community in Papua New Guinea (PNG), serviced by the Area Health Patrol (AHP). MAF in PNG has partnered with the AHP, a project seeking to bring healthcare to remote communities in the Western Province of PNG. MAF provides the aerial support for the project, flying health teams in and out of communities, and connecting the people of the province to larger hospitals in the area. MAF Pilot Mathias Glass shares his experience from a recent flight to Kapal.
Story by Mandy Glass.
On a busy day with unexpected delays, MAF pilot, Mathias Glass, was assigned to pick up a team from Kapal. Upon his arrival at the airstrip, he was surprised to see a crowd of people gathered near the airstrip. Something decorated by the parking bay grabbed his attention. The AHP team who were dropped off at Kapal earlier that week were scheduled to be picked up. On arrival, the AHP team explained to him that during their stay, they had introduced the ‘WASH’ project to the community. The intention of this project was to cultivate a habit of washing hands with clean water regularly, paticularly before eating and after using the toilet. Mathias realised that this was a new concept for the people in Kapal, nobody was really washing their hands in Kapal until then.
To encourage everyone to wash their hands, the AHP team had placed a little hand wash station with a ribbon on it by the parking bay at the airstrip. The honour of inaugurating it was given to Mathias, who was asked to make a small speech before cutting the ribbon. He talked about the importance of washing hands especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. He advised them that the best protection to stay healthy was clean hands. The entire community watched and cheered as their newest hand washing station was declared open.
This was a new start for the people of Kapal, a new season of washing hands. Mathias, despite planning for a quick pick up flight, wasn’t disappointed with the delay. Feeling very impressed by the team’s work, he states, “so washing hands is now a habit, no, not a habit yet, but it’s now practiced in Kapal… thanks to the AHP team.”