22 August 2013

Samaritan's Purse - Inhambane

Last week Mercy Air flew a team from the aid organisation, Samaritan's Purse to visit some of their projects in Mozambique.

Samaritan's Purse are a large Christian relief and aid organisation who arrange and promote community self- help projects around the world. Our purpose  was to fly donors and staff to visit a number of their programs in the south east of Mozambique.

We have flown them a number of times before and once again took them to Inhambane on the coast.
From there we drove a total of about 300 km to visit a number of their centres from where they reach out to the local community. These were really follow- up visits but they did allow the visitors to see and hear firsthand from the beneficiaries themselves, the difference that their efforts were making.

The first visit was with a couple (left), and their children who had been receiving help over the past year.
The next visit was to one of their own workers who had become ill and, when we arrived, was sleeping outside in her village under the shade of a tree.
Some of the Samaritan's Purse nurses attended her and gave her some medicines.
We gave her a big bowl full of useful day to day goodies.
One visit was to a project where they were growing their own food, so we were offered corn, sweet potato and cassava roots and leaves - yum!
One lady we visited had some tests and some counselling.
One family received a herd of goats.
One lady we visited had fallen into a fire when she was five and got quite badly burned and disfigured.
Samaritan's Purse asked us if we could arrange some medical help for her with the doctor teams we often fly. Her family was also given a goat and some food.
One interesting observation in one of the villages was this measure of security.
It was a chunky padlock attached to a length of re-bar by a short piece of tatty rope!

Inhambane is on a peninsular so we saved our drivers 90 km of travel by taking a 25 min ferry ride for the 3 km bay crossing.
 These pictures don't show it but there was quite a mean swell during the crossing.
 The next day we dropped our passengers off in Chibuto where they had some more visiting to do.
Before making our way back home via Maputo.

Thank you.

Mercy Air team

13 August 2013

Link 4 Life - Durban

Recently we had our regular visit from the UK based Link 4 Life teams.

In their own words:
"The Link 4 Life Project was started in 2010 by local churches in Great Wyrley & Cheslyn Hay to bring together schools, churches and the wider community to support the work of three Christian charitable organisations in southern Africa. The Project aims to help young people in our local community to broaden their horizons and challenges them to help and support people in need in communities in the south of Africa. The Link 4 Life Project seeks to encourage people from our local neighbourhood to care for and learn from our global neighbours in need. We want to raise awareness and funds for our partner charities and also stay linked with the people they serve. We really do want it to be a Link 4 Life."


They stay at Mercy Air for a few days during which time some of them travel down to Durban to visit the Baby Bear project. The Baby Bear Project supports St Mary's Hospital in Durban, South Africa. Local people in UK communities make knitted clothes for needy newborn babies and they are sent to the hospital.

Will the person delaying the flight to Durban please sort his life out and get on the plane - oh wait, sorry, that's the pilot and he's taking the picture.
In flight entertainment as viewed from economy.
This is as full as the plane gets. At least everyone gets a window seat.
The bonus for the pilot was that while the group visited the hospital, he and his wife got to spend some time with their son, Matthew, who lives in Durban
The weather had built up a bit over Swaziland on the way back.

Thank you.

Mercy Air team.

06 August 2013

Malawi - for a change

Last week Mercy Air flew a team from South Africa to the IRIS Ministries base in Bangula, in southern Malawi. The IRIS Ministries Kodiak also flew a team in from Mozambique. Our five hour flight certainly beat the three days drive from South Africa that some other people endured.

We were all there for the annual conference to which many Malawians walk many days to attend.

The flight up was uneventful but it had been drizzling in Bangula for most of the day so the strip was quite muddy.
 When we landed we got what must be the biggest reception we have ever had.
Dodgy photomerge of two pictures makes the plane look a little bent!

The conference was attended by about 5000 people and was typically African with plenty of shouting, singing, hand waving, dancing etc. There were three long sessions per day with visiting speakers from as far away as East Timor.
After that they showed a film and in the evening people seemed to just sleep more or less where they had been standing.

A rare moment of sitting down and calm.
The IRIS Kodiak arrived on the second day as they had been delayed due to weather in Blantyre.
The Kodiak might be bigger but ours goes faster!
The photos above and below are fairly typical of an African airstrip. The IRIS guys did a good job though of keeping the people, cows and goats off whilst we landed and took off.
During some of the breaks our pilot, Paul, walked down to check on the plane. This always turned into a Pied Piper scenario as he was followed by a hoard of excited kids.

The IRIS Kodiak might not have the best colour scheme ever but we were excited to think what we could do with ours when we get it, and there's a good chance that this could be in the next few months - watch this space!

The guys had arranged a guard and we guess that it's quite important to choose one who looks like he could invade a small country all by himself! He was actually very friendly and Paul had some good chats with him. He let him sit up front but unfortunately didn't take a picture.
After another day of singing, dancing, shouting, clapping and hand waving...

...it was time to leave.

The Kodiak left first.
Then after a quick team photo it was our turn.

Bangula looked a little more inviting in the sun than it did when we arrived.
On our way out of Blantyre we could see Mt. Mulanje (3002m) in the distance seemingly floating in the air, Avatar style, above the surrounding plains.
We flew back over Bangula but now at 10000ft.
At that height in winter, even in Africa, it gets a bit chilly.

Thank you.

Mercy Air team

(photos without black borders - Dave Morrison, IRIS Ministries Bangula, Malawi).