Welches in Peru

Welches in Peru
Our family (November 2018)

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Diospi FM On-Air in Puerto Maldonado

10 July 2018

As of 10:00am Monday 1 July 2018, Puerto Maldonado and its surrounds is on the air with Diospi Suyana FM 107.7 MHz with our population reach estimated at 200,000.  In recent years this place has seen an infectious growth rate which is ongoing. 

During our visit it was 32°C and 85% humidity every day, with a minimum of 20°C in the night.  Normal Amazon jungle weather for this time of year.  This was the closest thing for me to a Sydney summer since being in Perú.

The 50m Diospi Suyana radio tower of Puerto Maldonado with the new FM antenna installed atop.
It was a fight all the way as there was setback after setback – in fact I don’t think one part of our installation went without some level of problem.  It was clear to me we were in the enemies’ camp with what we were doing here. 

Here is a brief overview of some of our challenges (sorry to our readers, some of these are a bit technical);
  • Upon arrival we found the site was overgrown with tropical plants – it was like an episode of Lost in Space I recall watching as a child.  In fact a vine had even grown half way up the 50 metre tower ladder! (see photos)
  • The electrical supply meter on the outside wall was stolen just before we arrived!
  • Then I find that the electrical authority installed 3 phase power instead of single phase – despite providing drawings, load charts and having face to face meetings with them in advance.  So they had us run in double the extra heavy gauge copper cables which we had to go out and buy (expensive) in order to get approval for our power connection, even though we would still only actually use the original single phase pair of cables we brought with us.
  • The tower rigger arrived a day late. Then the day after he could not start as his supervisor went missing for most of the next day!  So we lost 2 days there.
  • The antenna pipe clamps did not fit their brackets despite coming from the one supplier, and all needed workshop bending to fit.
  • The satellite antenna alignment was delayed as we had a significant frequency error in our satellite downlink equipment due to a misconfiguration in the telemetry decoder.  So the spectrum did not match my signature reference plot taken the week before.  This made me think I was pointing to the wrong satellite, but I was not.  When I worked out what was wrong (no external 10 MHz reference to our LNB resulting in it drifting hundreds of MHz off frequency), then support was not available to fix the reference issue in the German provided modem (a complex unit) as it was the weekend.  So we had to get a conventional standalone type LNB sent from Curahuasi.  Fortunately our team was able to send this to Puerto Maldonado overnight (it’s a 12 hour drive) to get us operational the next day.
There were a number more issues of course, but I think you get the picture.  So now some of the first fruits of these labours…

When we drove into town just a few hours after commencing transmission, we stopped at red light (not everyone does that here by the way! J) whilst listening to our broadcast on the Hilux FM radio.  And to our surprise at the restaurant opposite us, Diospi Suyana radio was blaring out!  We laughed – talk about a quick take up!

Then days later back in Curahuasi, we start getting many calls from Puerto Maldonado listeners with amazing positive feedback such as the following examples (ongoing);

 1.       On 2 July, just two days after launch, one Puerto Maldonado man named Victor was about to commit suicide but listening to Diospi radio, he calls at 6:15am and asks for help.  Our team prays and councils him over the phone to avert this tragedy, putting him on the path to a better life.

2.       On 5 July we receive a call from the Puerto Maldonado prison to thank us for the programming.

3.       Also on 5 July, we receive a call from a man in Cirilo thanking us for our program, some 7 hours from Puerto Maldonado only accessible by canoe!

4.       Our Centro de Medios manager, Doris Manco (who appears in some of my installation photos) says to me “Hermanos, gracias por venir a Perú (with a crying emoji), estoy feliz por tanto amor de Dios. Dios los colme de sus bendiciones.  Gracias, gracias, mil gracias!”  Translation:  Thank you to my family for coming to Perú, I am happy for so much of God’s love. God bless you with your blessings (with our work on the radio). Thanks, thanks – a thousand thanks!

5.       On 7 July, the mum of a Caleb and Damaris calls in to announce: What a blessing is this radio Diospi Suyana, what beautiful music.  Let us rejoice to hear you sing to the Lord – thank you brothers to all who work in this radio of the Lord.  There is no lack of testimonies from many men with hard hearts who also listen to this radio.  Of which I will say is the only Christian radio beating in this city…

And I have listened across the FM band in Puerto Maldonado myself, and I hear such hopelessness / meaninglessness from the other stations.

As our Welches in Perú mission scripture Isaiah 55:10~11 states (NIV);
10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return to it without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

To our amazing supporters – this is just the beginning of course.  The listeners will increase with time in Puerto Maldonado, and I am soon to install our 5 other FM sites which will increase our Diospi Suyana coverage up to 630,000 people! 

And as I have reported previously there is more - the next phase Dr Klaus John is intent to buy more licences in 4 more key districts which are prime catchment areas of Diospi Suyana hospital patients.  They travel such a long way to receive first world medical services, love and respect offered by Diospi Suyana that is so rarely, if ever, available for the indigenous Quechuas of Perú.

Here below is a photo montage of the works…
When we arrived and opened the compound doors, we were surprised to see the growth after only 2 months from when it was a newly finished construction with bare ground.
A vine amazingly climbed half way up the 50m tower ladder!
Unloading the truck with our transmission equipment – here our 2.4m satellite antenna box (which is heavy!).
Piecing together our 2.4m C-Band satellite antenna.
The Electro Sur electrical authority worker connects a new circuit breaker and meter whilst the wires were live and with one leather glove and a metal handled screwdriver! (a normal practice in Perú)
When in the city, Diospi Suyana enjoyed a strong police presence J
Eventually the heat got to me and one night I insisted on trying suri (cooked on a kebab stick as no suri pizzas were to be found).  It’s their rainforest grub not unlike our Australian witchetty grub.  You have to try these things once in your life (and once was enough for me J).
A top down view of the new FM antenna installed on our 50m tower.
Testing the FM coaxial cable return loss (in the sweltering Puerto Maldonado day heat) with our R&S ETL analyser.
Here I am commissioning the FM transmission system with my originally Australian acquired R&S ETL analyser (with radio option donated by R&S Australia).
Our Diospi Suyana installation team – from left to right: Carlos, me, Doris, Euloguio and Cristobal.
After completion we were back in the Diospi Hilux for the 12 hour drive back to Curahuasi in the Andes via a 4,725m mountain pass with seemingly unending hairpin bends.

I plan to return to Puerto Maldonado next week with one assistant to make operational the satellite telemetry, commission it with the 2.4m satellite antenna with Intelsat and complete phase 2 of 3 of our site security system installation (i.e. siren, strobe, CCTV cameras with video images linked back to Curahuasi via satellite).

Thank you for your ongoing support partnering with us in this good work.