(sequel to article “We want The Foreigners!”, 07/04/2018)
We went back to the very remote tribal area in West Papua in April. After the big discussion a month ago, the local people agreed that the foreign team that wants to live with them should move in and build their base in Mialago (name changed). The locals there were very excited.
Our pilot looked for a suitable landing spot for the helicopter, as close to the future base as possible. He explained where he would like the new helipad, and the keen men started to cut down the long grass and the trees right away. When our pilot flew in a sling load full of fuel for the chainsaws, the new helipad was nearly finished! He flew in further tools and equipment as well as two local wood cutters who knew how to use the chainsaws to make beams and boards. All this material and the workers had been flown in from the coast by MAF to the closest airstrip in the area. This airstrip had taken more than 8 years to complete.
At the next morning our pilot flew more supplies in to Mialago. 10 days later, when he flew back in to pick up the men of the team, the first shed had already been built. The local people were very helpful. The team got the feeling that they owed them something for their work, so they asked them what they should pay. The locals replied, “No, we don’t want money, but would you ask the pilot if he can take this sick man to the next airstrip?” “Of course, that is one of the reasons we are here!” The locals were overjoyed to see that the helicopter is not just for the foreigners.