Serving the isolated poor of Bas Congo

20 July 2012

Garth Pederson, our Country Director in western Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), reports on how MAF is working with the Congolese in one of the most inaccessible parts of the country.

Bringing Good News to the poor is something we relish doing in our ministry with MAF in DRC. One of the poorest regions of the country is called Bas Congo. There’s a section of this province we serve with a weekly flight, as it is one of the most difficult areas to reach over land. Because of the tortured landscape of unending rolling hills it is difficult to find a long enough flat place to put an airstrip. For that reason these airstrips are among our most challenging due to their slope, length, and surface. Yet, just a 15-minute flight between two of these villages can save 8-12 hours of ground travel time.

The Swedish Covenant Church has been instrumental in planting churches throughout this area over the past 100 years. While the churches continue with national pastors and leadership, the Swedish Church continues their involvement by providing support for some of the ministries in the area. The local church leadership has prioritised providing a subsidised flight service via MAF each Wednesday in order to provide people with an easier option for moving around the region. The difficult terrain makes travel extremely hard and time consuming, especially for the sick and elderly.

Coffee berries spread on the ground to prevent erosion

Recently I conducted a training seminar with the six airstrip agents from Bas Congo who help us schedule passengers, maintain the airstrips and supervise the arrival and departure of the airplanes. We talked about safety issues, reporting weather conditions, and preparing passengers for the flights. I explained how to fill out a flight manifest and provided instruction in using a calculator and weighing scale. We talked about airstrip markers and wind indicators. MAF provided this equipment for each airstrip, and the agents were pleased to be together for the training.

Garth and Bas Congo airstrip agents at Luozi

Each week we have patients traveling to the Mission hospital at Kimpese. Sometimes there’s a new mother and baby going home from the hospital. Other times we have cases that are too complicated for the local health station to handle, so the patient and usually a helper or two are transported to the hospital. Since someone must cook and care for the patient during their stay, we often carry the cooking equipment and food stocks as baggage.

The flight day is usually long, often up to 12 landings, our self-imposed limit. On the flight back to our home base at Kinshasa we may have a pastor traveling for a conference or an elderly person going to visit family in the city. No matter the reason for travel, we are grateful the Lord enables us to overcome the isolation of these remote villages and bless the Congolese people. We’re thankful also for your part as you partner with us.

 

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