14 February 2011

Chimoio dental and medical

Mercy Air were in Moz again last week.

The plan was to take two separate teams (Rodger, a doctor, Rob, a paramedic and two Swiss dentists, Roland and Anna-Marie) to two different places and bring them all back at the end of the week - this almost worked perfectly.

The dentists were to run a dental outreach from the ASAM centre in Chimoio and the doctors would do a first aid course in Marromeu on the Zambezi.

The paramedic's flight from Jo'burg was canceled due to fog so the first aid course couldn't happen but we took Rob, a retired USAF pilot, instead, and met the dentists in Maputo. We then dropped the Dentists in Chimoio and continued on to Marromeu with the doctor the following day.
The trip from the airport started in typical African style. Five in the front and two and all our luggage in the back - for an hours drive.

We have worked with Roger and the YWAM guys in Marromeu for many years but they needed to renew relationships with the local health authorities and so most of the time was spent touring hospitals and having meetings. Whilst Roger did this, turns out Rob was quite the computer geek and so he set about 'fixing' some of the local missionaries computers.
Rob dissects the bowels of a laptop.

Then we flew back to Chimoio via the new ASAM airstrip. It isn't quite finished so we couldn't land, but when it is complete it will make trips to the ASAM/Mercy Air base far more convenient and cheaper.
The new ASAM strip, 1.2 km long and 30m wide.

One of the novelties of staying with Dwight and Lynn is their choice of pets. This is their five month old Klipspringer that we suggested they call Jerry.
Jerry the Klipspringer.

The following days were again spent visiting projects and having - or waiting to have meetings.

We visited the dentists who were hard at work in the local clinic. We think before they'd even had a chance to unpack their suitcases, Roland and Anna-Marie got down to business.
Roland and Anna-Marie saw an average of 30 people a day.

Dental care in the community is non-existent, so imagine what a blessing it was to have this top-notch service pitch up on the doorstep! And...they had the needed material to do fillings - white fillings at that!
They brought portable equipment for doing their work all the way from Switzerland. ASAM provided a small generator (red machine in foreground below), and thus started a very busy week for them of pulling, cleaning, drilling and filling teeth!
Above photo's Lynn Lagore).

While the dentists kept busy at the task of dental health, Dwight and Lynn Lagore introduced Rob and Dr. Roger Pacholka (In His Name Ministries) to the different mission projects.

We visited a school set up by ASAM where they also have a feeding programe for the pupils.
Some of the kids walk up to 10 km through the bush to get to school.

Left to right. Paul, Rob and Roger (Photo Lynn Lagore).

Dr. Roger Pacholka is a medical doctor who, with his wife Katy, have been involved in health work in Mozambique and Swaziland for over 10 years, but they are interested in contributing even further. So part of the week was dedicated to showing him the health needs and facilities in the area. We set up a meeting with the District Director of Health in Manica to discuss plans that hold good potential, then off we went to said meeting. It's over an hour's drive one way, but it's a scenic drive, so that helps.

But when we got to Manica, we were informed that there had been an emergency and the director would be out for the entire day. We tentatively rescheduled a meeting for the next day.

On the way home, we decided to stop and pay the Vanduzi Hospital a visit and to meet the new director there.
He took us on a quick tour.

The lab

The little house where expectant moms from remote areas
can come wait for the birth of their baby.

Inside the expectant mother's house.

'Health o meter'. We found this quite amusing and wondered whether big numbers or small numbers were a better indication of health.

The next day, we went to Manica again in hopes that we could meet with the district director.
Rob and Paul killed time by playing cell phone games...

We arrived in Manica to learn that the director had been delayed in a meeting. So, we had a wait on our hands. We decided to tour of the town's deserted Catholic church that stands proud on top of a hill.

Once we'd circled the outside, it was time to check the inside. Judging from the wall posters and bulletin boards full of simple English sentences, it seems the place is being used as a schoolroom of sorts.

Unique view of a beautiful part of the country.

We braved the rickety old staircase that led up to the bell tower. (Photo Lynn Lagore).

While we were interested in the church, neighborhood kids were interested in us.
I guess we did stand out a bit.

A visit to the above church, an hour or so in a cafe and several cokes, coffees and sandwiches later, we were finally able to see the director. He was still in meetings but was able to excuse himself for enough time to pop out and talk with us on the street, and we were very grateful for that. And so, our trip was a success.

And that, pretty much wraps our health and patient focused week!

The team on the day of departure.


03 February 2011

TWR Mocuba

We have often flown across the vast empty spaces of southern Mozambique and wondered how the people in the isolated villages below can have contact with the outside world. What do they know of our little white aircraft, or of the message that its occupants are bringing to the people further north.
Someone else obviously wondered this many years ago and the result was Trans World Radio an organisation who broadcast the Gospel to over 40 countries in Africa alone.
They had a group of seven donors from Canada who wanted to visit the studios in Mocuba, N Mozambique. As this is quite a remote inland location, taking three full days to drive from South Africa, we arranged to fly them there in two of our aircraft. It was still a six hour journey including stops for fuel, customs and immigration, but the weather was perfect and we got there in good time.
The 310 landing at Mocuba
We had flown here a month ago to pick up a stroke patient (http://mercyair-sa.blogspot.com/2011/01/another-long-day-in-saddle.html) so we knew what to expect with regard to the condition of the dirt strip. As usual the local children got all excited and greeted us on our arrival.
Mercy Air team

01 February 2011

Limpopo flood survey

The UK organisation Oxfam had been concerned about the water levels on the lower Limpopo River.
The last few weeks have seen water rise above alert level and indications were that, if it continued, the flooding could be worse than that in 2000. Those floods were so bad they attracted world wide media attention, with one iconic image of a lady being rescued by helicopter after having given birth in a tree.
The only way to really find out how bad the flooding was, was to go and have a close look.
We flew over to Maputo to pick up representatives of various NGO’s . There was a mapping expert from World Food Programe and a climate change expert from CARE. The team leader was from Save The Children as well as a representative from Mozambique’s disaster management organisation INGC.
After a lengthy process of obtaining the necessary military clearance to allow for low level survey work, we set off.
We flew for a total of 350 miles and covered the whole of the Mozambique portion of the river from the border with South Africa to where it enters the Indian Ocean.
We flew from Maputo along the green line.
The upper reaches weren’t that bad but there was certainly a large amount of standing water in the lower portions.
The various aid organisations will now get together and work on a plan based on what we saw. Our helicopter is on standby in case the situation worsens but we are expecting to be asked to conduct another survey flight in a week or two’s time.

Mercy Air team