14 February 2014

To Chimoio - but not quite beyond

The last few weeks have seen us preparing for another trip in the Kodiak to ASAM near Chimoio in Mozambique. In many aspects it was almost run of the mill but at the same time there were a few firsts we hoped to achieve.

It was the first time we had been able to fly from our local international airport directly to Chimoio as they had the Jet A1 fuel the Kodiak burns. This avoided having to route via Beira on the coast costing us time and money. It was also to be the first time we could continue on and land at the newly opened airstrip at ASAM only 30 miles further on from Chimoio. Although we had a DCA flight permit we were not allowed to do so 'due to the continuing political unrest in the country'. This was quite a surprise and a disappointment as it would of closed a large circle spanning many years of joint planning and preparation on behalf of Mercy Air and ASAM.

We would have liked to of landed here...
..and left the plane in here.
Now we have a larger plane we can take more people and more stuff and on this trip there were a number of different functions we were fulfilling. The main one was to transport Rick Cogbill, the founder of Mercy Tech Missions who had flown with us many times in previous years. He had set up an auto maintenance facility at ASAM and wanted to transport the last few items he needed to complete the task. Rick has a natty little blog at:
so I won't steal any of his thunder as you can read his side of the story by clicking on the link above.

The Kodiak is huge and true to form Rick tried to load as much into it as he could, almost to the point that we were threatening to ban breakfast in the morning due to weight restrictions.

There was also a couple visiting from Birmingham in the UK and we wanted to take them to Moz to see what we do. Nigel is a vicar by trade but used to be a fire engine mechanic back in the day so him and Rick had plenty to talk about.

Being in the ministerial way Nigel was happy to give a talk at the morning devotions.
The one morning just as we started, so did the rain, and we all quickly relocated to Rick's new workshop where Nigel used the inspection pit to good effect.

The inspection pit of baptism - one day
Another aspect of the whole trip was Education. Mercy Air has been working together with YWAM to develop the 'Classroom in a Box' concept and Anne Herbert from Mercy Air also accompanied us and spent her time helping to train mission staff members in student assessment and basic literacy and numeracy activities.
This also included a visit to a bush school ASAM had set up many years ago to share the concepts with the teachers.
Teaching the teachers
Our arrival at the school was quite the event and all the kids were waiting to wave us in with branches.
Then they sang the national anthem and visitors who were spectators...
...soon became participants in games...
...much to the appreciation of all involved.
Because of the recent rains there were only about a quarter of the kids at school that day as the others couldn't cross the swollen river. We were able to do a teaching event to all the kids in one classroom...
...before lunch. First the drinking and hand washing water had to be collected from - quite a way aways apparently...
...before we helped dish up...
...and serve.

The kids walk up to 8 km to attend the school and this is likely the only proper food these kids will get on any particular day.
The food is cooked on an open fire...
...and served till it is all gone.
On the way back we stopped to by bread, but it was only just being made...
...in an oven powered by large trees.
We also visited a family who had four sets of twins.
Back at ASAM Nigel and Paul continued helping Rick with a few things in the workshop.
A work bench in the making
Became a work bench in situ
And then a work bench in action as Rick used it to teach some electrical motor maintenance
Meanwhile the shop received it's first vehicle for a clutch change and other adjustments.

A tool box we bought up gets its first outing
Nigel inspected one of the centres generators.
And gave some non verbal feedback on the electrical distribution facility.
Anne continued with assessments for some of the ASAM staff
While Cathy did an impromptu consultation for a mother who had some infant feeding issues
After what seemed like a whirlwind tour - especially considering the two nights of violent thunder and hoofing down rain, we drove back to Chimoio and headed home.
The Rio Save from 12000 ft.
We had some 'weather' on the way up and particularly on the way back down but the radar, storm-scope and approach and arrival equipment on the aircraft's Garmin GPS worked flawlessly.

Arriving back in South Africa
Thank you

Mercy Air team

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