08 December 2016

Sight Flight KZN

Following a 'vision trip' a few months ago, early December saw the first joint flight to northern Kwa-Zulu Natal between Mercy Air, Mission Aviation Fellowship/Flying for Life and Wilderness Safaris who own Rocktail Camp where we were based.

Wilderness Safaris were keen to look after their staff and the communities they come from and knew MAF were doing similar work up in Limpopo (see previous blog entry) which Mercy Air was already involved with.

For this trip Mercy Air flew two optometrists to Manzengwenya in northern KZN armed with all their eye testing equipment and about 300 pairs of donated spectacles of varying prescriptions.

The flight was only an hour long but by road it would have been nearer nine.
Some of the many donated spectacles we took with us.
The obligatory 'on the way there' photo. Wim in the front with Paul and Cathy and Bonita in business class just behind.
Manzengwenya is an interesting strip in that it's cut out of a forest and is surrounded by tall trees. It's a bit like landing in a shoe box. It is just over 2km from the coast.
Final approach 21.
The 310 parked and unloaded. A surprisingly small amount of cargo for the large amount of difference it was about to make in people's lives.
After lunch we saw most of the lodge staff.

There was even time for Paul to get a quick check up.

Some of the tools of the trade.
In the evening before dinner we had time for a walk on the beach.

Last week we had to share our accommodation with a scorpion. This week's guest was a slightly less scary but none the less impressive Long Horned Beetle.
There was also a rather large moth (that we didn't get a photo of) but with a wingspan of almost 15cm that was fluttering around. We overheard a French lady remark/question "it eez a bat?"

The next morning we drove along some sandy roads into the community...
..where people were already waiting for us (most were actually inside in the shade).
All the fancy equipment was set up again...
..and Wim and Bonita began testing.

There were many people lined up and excited about the renewed gift of clear sight and we were there well into the afternoon.
Most people were in their 50's, 60's and even 70's. The oldest man to arrive was 89.
At the other end of the scale there were a few kids under 10.

  We had a couple of translators to help us with those who didn't speak English so well.
During all this Paul and Cathy's job was to record names, ages and prescriptions and actually distribute the spectacles to those who had been tested.
Cathy and I both found the work very interesting and we had many questions. Wim and Bonita were very good and took time to explain things and let us have a look ourselves.

One of the big perks of the trip was seeing the reaction and joy of so many for whom the world instantly became a more clear and vivid place.

One particular old gentleman was shouting and proclaiming "so clear - so colourful" all the way back home when we gave him a lift afterwards.
The next morning there was just one more staff member to see before we loaded the plane and set off again for White River.
In total almost 100 people benefited from the visit, some seeing the world in a new light for the first time in a long time.

Thank you

Paul and Cathy for the Mercy Air team

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