PNG Volunteer Trip
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.
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.