It could be the most challenging job in PNG. Meet the man who has a vital role in bringing hope to isolated people.
Story by Tajs Jespersen
Being in charge of MAF’s fuel operations in PNG is not an easy task. Despite huge challenges such as national fuel stoppages, Paul Kaia makes certain that MAF’s operations never stop.
“I have to work as hard as possible,” said Paul. “So the good news and the services are reached to the isolated, remote people of this country.”
PNG has some of the most demanding environments in the world. From the Highlands that stretch across the entire country, to one of the largest wetlands in the world in the southwest. This makes transportation of fuel extremely difficult.
There are three ways to transport fuel in PNG:
- Land transport where there are roads. This can be dangerous because of hold-ups.
- By barge along the coast and rivers, which is limited and time consuming.
- To some bases MAF have to fly extra fuel out for lack of alternatives.
“It’s very challenging, but I thank God for the wisdom,” said Paul.
Before Paul became fuel coordinator, he worked as a cabin attendant when MAF operated larger Twin Otter aircraft in PNG. Through that role, Paul has flown almost 3000 hours in PNG, which has given him a unique insight into the rural communities.
“I've seen it. I've been there. And so I understand the struggle, the pain, the people in the remote areas face,” said Paul.
Despite the difficulties of his role, Paul has never lost sight of why he works so hard.
“It's about serving God. That's all. I wanted to serve God in this organisation,” said Paul. “Serving God is serving people. The people represent the image of God.”
Paul's serving heart extends beyond his work. In his church he has been a youth leader for more than 15 years and is now one of the church elders. He is also a councillor in his hometown of Mendi. His serving heart becomes especially clear through his prison ministry work.
“I see the bigger problem in the community, people label someone like they say: ‘Oh, he's a raskal’ (criminal)...So people start to ignore them. But for me it's different. I like to work with them. I like to sit with them, talk to them and share with them,” said Paul.
“I had a programme for all the pastors in the town. They used to come in every week to share the Word of God (with them)…These guys are now I tell you, they are changed people…The worst criminals in prison camps have changed. It's just that we've got to have the heart to do it.”