This story comes to us from MAF pilot John Dalton. John flies a Cessna Caravan floatplane and is based out of Merauke in Papua, Indonesia.
“Soap and towels… don’t forget to buy the soap and towels,” Dr. Mia told me. I half-heartedly told her, “Ok,” but in my mind I was thinking how those things aren’t nearly as important as the food, medicine, and metal roofing for the clinic and school that need to be on my last flight into the extremely remote village of Esrotnamba. Dr. Mia’s words kept echoing in my mind, and I thought that, for whatever reason, they were important to her, so I made sure that soap and towels were bought and loaded onto the plane.
When I arrived in Esrotnamba, everything was unloaded and Dr. Mia quickly began passing out the soap and towels. The women of the village were especially excited, but I really didn’t understand why. I was ready to go and was about to jump in the plane when I asked Dr. Mia, “What’s the deal with the soap and towels?” She explained that for years the people suffered with skin diseases, which made their lives miserable.
“Ever since you brought in soap and towels a year or so ago, it has made a huge difference for the people, especially the kids,” she said. “Teachers were brought in about two years ago, and they noticed a dramatic difference in how the kids learned before they started using soap and towels and now, because the kids are no longer suffering from the skin disorders. They are no longer distracted by the itching and can focus on school. It has changed their lives. They can read and write now.”
“Wow,” I replied, “All that because of some bars of soap and towels?!” I had no idea! Why is it that I can get so pre-occupied with what I think is important, but I don’t stop to see that sometimes it’s the little things, like a bar of soap and a towel, that can make all the difference in the world.
Later that night, as I was taking a shower, I reached for the soap and couldn’t help but smile.