Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) is providing disaster relief flights to facilitate aid efforts on Sulawesi Island, Indonesia, following a deadly earthquake and tsunami on 28 September 2018.
The team arrived on Tuesday and are basing themselves out of the airport in Palu. ‘MAF is working in partnership with Ethnos360 Aviation and Helivida,’ said John Woodberry, MAF’s global director of Disaster Response. ‘We’ve put together a collaborative team operating two Kodiak airplanes and one helicopter, which gives us the ability to reach the towns that have seen destruction as well as the more remote areas where people are suffering.’
MAF is a Christian that uses its fleet of 128 airplanes to help those living in the most isolated parts of the world, giving the residents of those areas a chance for a better life. When natural disasters strike, MAF’s experienced disaster response teams are able to mobilize quickly, providing air transportation, VSAT communication systems, and logistics expertise so that help can reach those in need.
‘Our personnel know the local language and culture, which is a big help in a disaster situation. It allows us work more effectively, so those who need help get it sooner.’ John Woodberry
According to data released on 3 October by the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance,1,407 people died when a 7.4 earthquake shook Sulawesi Island, triggering a tsunami that devastated the city of Palu and areas nearby. More than 65,000 houses have been damaged and 71,000 displaced people are sheltering at 141 evacuation sites.
‘Our folks at the site are seeing houses that have crumbled, huge boats stranded on land by the tsunami, and some areas near the shore that have been wiped clean of any structures,’ John said. As aftershocks continue in the area, many people are sleeping outside.
The MAF team arrived in Palu on Tuesday and immediately set to work.
‘Some of our first flights were to evacuate school children from Palu back to their homes in the Ampana area,’ said John. ‘They had been waiting at the hangar for a couple days before we even arrived. They were hungry, so we fed them as well. We’ve also been flying in personnel from other relief agencies that are arriving to help.’
‘Some of MAF's first flights were to evacuate school children from Palu back to their homes.
We’ve also been flying in personnel from relief agencies that are arriving to help.’ John Woodberry
Since a lot of communication infrastructure has been damaged by the quake, MAF has set up a VSAT communication system at the Palu airport. This allows aid agencies to communicate with their teams in other places.
For more than 60 years, MAF has been providing flight services in what is now the country of Indonesia. The organization has 150 staff and 15 airplanes at seven permanent bases across the vast island nation.
‘Our personnel know the local language and culture, which is a big help in a disaster situation. It allows us work more effectively, so those who need help get it sooner,’ said John.
MAF receives the majority of its funding from donors. Those wishing to contribute to our global ministry will be helping us respond when the next disaster hits.
Mission Aviation Fellowship was founded in 1945 by WWII pilots who had a vision for how aviation could be used to spread the gospel. Since that time MAF has grown to a global family of organisations serving in 27 countries worldwide. The ministry’s recent work includes assisting in the aftermath of earthquakes in Papua New Guinea, helping combat an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and providing food and other necessities for thousands of refugees in the DRC.
‘We’ve put together a collaborative team operating two Kodiak airplanes and one helicopter, which gives us the ability to reach the towns that have seen destruction as well as the more remote areas where people are suffering.’ John Woodberry