05 May 2015

ASAM Mozambique

Mercy Air recently took a team up to ASAM in Mozambique for a week again. Nigel and Erin are from Birmingham in the UK, Karrel is from the Netherlands, Anne is from South Africa and Paul and Cathy used to live in the UK once upon a time but now work for Mercy Air.

We were there to support ongoing medical and education projects as well as practical motor mechanics and plumbing.

A beautiful day to get there with our direct  2 1/2 hour flight saving two full days of driving.

  We're still amazed at the remoteness of the of the places we fly to.
On the way in we did fly over the bridge that we helped to build last year.
When we arrived we were told to stay indoors for a while as the HALO Trust who do land mine clearing and whom Princess Dianna championed, were destroying an RPG-7 grenade. These were designed to down helicopters and penetrate tank armour.
Apparently kids are told that inside these grenades is either a chemical that they can sell to make them unbelievably rich for life or a substance that can cure any illness. One of the guys at ASAM found some kids in a village trying to get into a 30 year old unexploded grenade by bashing the end of it with a hammer. He stopped them and took the grenade to a safe place - the wardrobe in his bedroom! He told the local police twice about it and eventually met some HALO guys a year later. They were a bit more concerned and came round the next day to blow it up - and that was the day we arrived.

We went to the site a few days later after they had filled the hole in. It didn't look much but being rocket propelled they reckoned most of it had gone deep into the ground.
After the fireworks we got stuck in. First up was a job for our Dutch super plumber.
Nigel and Paul went off to help install some solar panels for a gate motor.
People are very resourceful in Mozambique. They have no permanent electricity, relying instead on generators which only run some of the day. Hot water in the evening is provided by 'lighting the donkey' which works remarkably well.
The next day Nigel and Paul went to the motor workshop that Rick Cogbill had helped set up over the last few years. We had flown Rick and his supplies up many times and now we were able to help Prospa, the Mozambican guy he had trained up with a few jobs. Handy that Nigel was an ex fire engine mechanic.

One of the first jobs was the tracking on a Toyota 4x4.
Then there was the engine bash plate that had been... bashed a little out of shape.
We found out that Prospa was in need of a 3/8 drive torque wrench so we took one up for him.
It turns out that the heat and moisture up in Moz can quite effect the way doors fit so in-between hammering and banging and the odd bit of plumbing we were also kept busy planeing and sanding.
The day after we visited the mission's school about a bumpy 20 km ride away and the one that the bridge services.

The church that Nigel and Erin are from are part of a larger group that are raising funds to support various projects and the most recent is a house for two female teachers.
We met the teachers and viewed the progress.

When finished it should look like the one already built for the male staff.
We saw the library that had been funded last year...
...and looked in on a class in progress.

Seems all the kids wanted to hold Cathy's hand.
After that we went to see the bridge which apparently getting loads of use.
On the way back from the school we came across the Health Department's vaccination team truck stuck in the mud - and helped them get it unstuck.
That evening we just had time to climb 'The Rock' which is a small outcrop that juts out just above the canopy to reveal an amazing amount of space.
The guys up at ASAM have had an impressive array of interesting pets in their time and the latest is an orphaned baboon named Amigo. They take him for walks and are quite tuned to his moods though his different styles of communication. They can tell when he's bored, sad, angry, excited etc just by the change in his mannerisms and 'voice'.
 Turns out he's also a bit of a poser though.
 Nigel gave the morning talk at the start of the last full day.
 Then it was back to the workshop for us.
 First up was the wood-shop's compressor - that wasn't compressing.
 Turns out it was the head gasket.
 So happy was the customer that he shook our hands when we returned it fixed.
Then there was a military looking jack hammer, the sort you might choose if ever you felt you needed to invade a small neighbouring country.
We got it going and it promptly went and jack hammered itself into the ground which then took a bit of getting out!

Sharp teeth, lethal sting, lightening reflexes and the appetite of a raging carnivore are all things the African Killer Snail does not have. Still flippin' big though.

While the boys were doing all the blokey things the girls were none less busy.
Erin got stuck into the ladies craft scheme at the training centre and helped out on a treadle sewing machine.

 Cathy also spent some time there
Anne went up to continue with the education programe.
 Cathy also did some teaching on health issues.
The last day there was just enough time for the traditional ' pre-departure' photo and we were off back to South Africa.
Thank you

Mercy Air team

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