MAF fights food insecurity in Papua, Indonesia

By June 23, 2020

Indonesia (MNN) — COVID-19 lockdowns mean many people in rural Indonesia aren’t earning wages and can’t buy food for themselves.

The lockdowns have largely contained the spread of the virus in certain countries and US states. But in developing countries, the lockdown measures lead to a lot of food insecurity.

To address this problem, Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) adopted a voucher program designed to help people in the Papua province of Indonesia.

The program

Liza Baikole, who runs the store that accepts the vouchers, says, “The isolated areas in the interior of Papua are reached by MAF and other planes. These people in the interior are dependent on rice as their main source of food, brought by planes … But since COVID-19 began, products have been difficult to obtain … Many people have lost their jobs and business.”

With many in dire straits, the voucher program helps people buy groceries for at least one month. So far, the program has supplied 85 vouchers.

MAF delivers food to remote people in Papua, as well as countries like Lesotho and Haiti. (Photo courtesy of MAF on Facebook)

Leigha Gandy, who spearheads the program, says people can use the vouchers to buy things like oil, eggs, and flour. “We’ve heard stories of people buying things like feminine products for their neighbors, milk for their babies, and things like that,” she says. “So, it really covers a lot of different kinds of needs.” Many people have even bought seeds with their vouchers.

That’s good because Baikole says this program won’t permanently fix food scarcity. “For people who have a garden, it is very good if they can be assisted with the planting of seeds so that they can develop in the future in order to meet the nutritional needs of the family to be healthy and have a strong immune system.”

The response of the Church

Christians in Papua continue to help each other battle through the food crisis, even as many churches have only been able to meet online. Gandy encourages Christians to pray that COVID-19 will pass, and the economy can thrive. Many pastors and other Christians are not receiving their wages. Pray they can continue supporting each other.

Finally, pray that many in Papua will be drawn to Christ through the witness of the Church. Gandy says, “I think we’re really excited that the vouchers are an opportunity to share the Gospel. Pray with us, that we would encourage believers in their faith during this time to trust God [and] to reach out to unbelievers.”



In the header image, a view of Papua, Indonesia from the window of a MAF plane. (Photo courtesy of MAF via Facebook.)

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