PNG Volunteer Trip

Some background

I had been talking to a friend of mine about doing some volunteer IT work for MAF (Missionary Aviation Fellowship). So the perfect opportunity came up recently when I changed jobs, and I arranged to have a couple of weeks before starting at Google Inc.

The IT department at MAF has a manpower shortage, and so when they had a requirement to do some training in Mt Hagen on Linux, this seemed a perfect opportunity to not only support MAF, but to experience a completely different culture.
I had so many people express interest in the trip that I thought doing a daily blog might be fun. So, here I am at the MAF accomodation compound in Mt Hagen, typing this by torchlight because the power is out (and the water is also off because of the power outage), and it is raining cats and dogs outside.

Day 1 - 3: Getting to Mt Hagen

Day 4 - 6: Linux training at MAF

Saturday Markets

Walk at Haus Poroman

Ronden Ridge Lodge

Sunday Church

Day 8: Satellite Dish.

Day 9: I go flying!

Day 10: More flying, and village visit

Day 11 - 12: Coffee drinking cockroaches, and farewells

Linux at MAF

MAF are starting to move into Linux for a lot of their applications. It's a perfect fit but there are a lot of legacy applications and many remote offices that do not have any on-site IT support. The Mt Hagen office is the Papua New Guinea MAF central office, supporting around 50 staff with a wide range of accounting, aircraft eng ineering, ticketing, and flight operation applications. Communications are a significant challenge. More on that later. One of the challenges is the level of training and experience of local IT support folks, so I'm here to teach them about all things Linux.
An associated group, CRMF (Christian Radio Missionary Fellowship) also see the potential in using Linux for their area, so they have two people at the course as well.
I'm very impressed at the way these organisations really get Linux. They really see how Open Source and the Internet can be an incredible boon for their work in these very remote and developing areas. For the budget challenged not-for-profit organisation working in the backblocks of developing countries, it is great.