02 June 2008

Can you fly to Livingstone... now?

Some have written recently wondering if we're still alive.

The good news is that we are, although finding time to write about what we've been up to seems night on impossible. Here's an attempt.

We have done a number of flights (as you would hope and expect). A more recent one saw us fly to Livingstone in Zambia - with 20 minutes notice. It was actually for another organisation who's pilot couldn't do the flight at the very last minute, and was a good exercise in planning as you go! It turned out to be a big day (and half a big night) and covered 1500 miles which is about the same as going from London to the north of Africa and half way back.

This Wednesday we have a flight to the north of Mozambique, returning the following day. The equivalent distance here would get him from the UK to Newfoundland.

Last weekend we hosted a missionary friend whom we knew in Lesotho and who is now working in Zimbabwe. When we went there for a holiday years ago we bought back a few bank notes as souvenirs. We still have them, a 5, 10 and 20 Zim Dollar note. Our friend was kind enough to donate a few of her current Zim notes to our collection and we now have a 10, 50 and a 250 million Zim Dollar note. So, we're millionaires, although the reality is that you need three of the 50 million ones to buy a can of Coke!

A number of Mercy Air staff are on furlough at the moment which again puts a lot pressure on the ones still here. We have therefore been extremely busy in the office. We are looking to sell our Beech 18 and we recently flew it to Johannesburg to show it off to some prospective buyers. We then worked on various proposals for it's replacement which we are hoping will be a pressurised turboprop aircraft. We have also had a big Civil Aviation inspection last week which we had to prepare for.

Mercy Air's helicopter is currently busy in the Zambezi Delta with mission and food distribution work. Matthias Reuter the pilot writes:

"After an intensive maintenance service, the Mercy Air helicopter was once again on its way to the poorest of the poor. We started working immediately after our flight from South Africa to the small town of Tambara on the Zambezi river. The goal of our mission was to provide further help to the victims of the flood at the beginning of the year. Using our helicopter, we transported many tons of goods in cargo nets to the people who lost everything in the border region between Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Further downstream we brought more than 25 tons of food to a remote region at the shores of the Zambezi river. Everything from rice to beans, to flour and cooking oil was safely carried in the cargo netsbeneath the helicopter to the people in need.We were also able to provide medical support. In collaboration with the government of Mozambique, we carried out several vaccination campaigns for children and were able to airlift medical personnel to several remote villages. For most of the local people this is the only possibility to get medical help and medicine. Thank you very much for your help and support - it makes it possible for the "wings of love for people in need" to fly again - tomorrow."

Thank you

Mercy Air team

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