Let us introduce ourselves.
Mercy Air is a Christian, non-profit organisation based in South Africa. We operate two fixed wing aircraft (Cessna 310 and a Quest Kodiak) and a two Airbus Group AS350 helicopters.
We operate out of a 600m (2000 ft) airstrip near White River in the eastern part of South Africa.
31 December 2017
17 November 2017
Our two weeks up in Marromeu was interesting as always. In the first week we assisted with the distribution of mosquito nets to 649 families in 8 of the more remote villages. This is part of an Africa-wide distribution jointly sponsored by World Vision, Food For The Hungry & Oxfam, to reduce the estimated half a million malaria deaths each year – 70% of which are children under the age of 5.
We flew several groups of students from YWAM primary healthcare school out to the delta for their practical learning alongside existing rural healthcare workers, flew medical teams to 6 villages for mobile clinics, did 4 medevacs, took the evangelism team out 4 days to 2 villages to continue the 'Firm foundations' Bible teaching program, education team to 3 villages, agriculture project team to 8 villages.t there are 50 of them compressed into each bale. These weighed 38kg eac
At each distribution village, a net was set up to show the locals how to do it and its purpose.
Some places were better organised than others, but here at Milambe, village leaders had hundreds of people all lined up in a relatively orderly process to get their mozzy nets.
One of the setbacks of the week was when Mae Chico – one of the education team, was hit by a motorcycle and suffered a fractured leg and a deep gash. There are no x-ray facilities at Marromeu, so I flew her up to Caia for x-ray then back to Marromeu for treatment. She was in a LOT of pain but all the hospital could offer her for relief was panadol!
There’s always plenty to do. On Saturday, I spent the day out at the Nensa YWAM base repairing the solar electric system for the preschool. By raiding components and batteries from other houses, I was able to get the system up and running for them.
We visited 8 villages at various stages of establishing an agrucultural project. Here Toni teaches the association at Mirantone how to rig up the pump. One of the difficulties in many places is the wells are very shallow as the sandy ground caves in easily. Trying to teach them how to reinforce the walls of these wells is becoming an important part of the project.
When everything is hitched up there’s plenty of excitement when the water starts to flow. NGO 'Wings like Eagles' sponsored some more pumps for these projects. Thanks!
One day I ended up with 3 medevacs in the heli at one time. Little Abel was really struggling to breath, so Leanna sent him and his mum out with me to Marromeu hospital. After the first day of IV antibiotics, he had already turned the corner to recovery. Sometimes these interventions seem SO simple, but without our presence there – they are unobtainable to the locals.
For the Mercy Air team.
Cerebral malaria is the most dangerous form of malaria, and may cause delirium, seizures, coma, and brain injury. Without treatment, it is invariably fatal (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3056312/).
Dodo’s two-year-old daughter, Happiness, was sick with malaria, so Dodo did the only thing she could think of: she walked to the nearby village of Hucu, where the helicopter would bring a team of nurses the next day. She would bring malaria medicine home to her daughter, and Happiness would get well. What Dodo did not realize was that she also had malaria, but hers was cerebral and her situation was life-threatening.
When the helicopter landed on Tuesday morning, the villagers immediately brought one of the nurses, Julia, to the dimly-lit room where her clinic sometimes took place. Upon entering, instead of an empty room, Julia found a young woman lying on the floor, shivering and unconscious. Suddenly, the woman’s eyes flew open and she looked around the room, but she did not seem to comprehend where she was. Julia spoke to her, but she did not respond. After several unsuccessful attempts, Julia left the room to speak with the villagers.
The villagers explained Dodo’s strange behavior and unexpected arrival the day before. Dodo had come for medicine for her daughter, but it would not be possible for her to make it home without help.
Mercy Air pilot, Joel, immediately agreed to bring Dodo and the nurses back to her village of Xihadlo to treat her daughter. Upon arrival, they found several more individuals with malaria and treated all of them. After ensuring Dodo’s daughter, was treated and well cared for, Dodo was flown to the nearest hospital where she also received the treatment she needed to survive.
For the Mercy Air team.
A View from a Pilot’s Wife
Last week I joined my husband on my first outreach flight with Mercy Air. Watching him wear the many 'hats' of a missionary pilot gave me a much-needed fresh perspective of who he is and how Mercy Air seeks to serve.
From the age of 15, my husband dreamed of becoming a missionary bush pilot to provide support for mission work in remote locations – especially in Africa. After many years of training and preparation, in 2012, we (and our two daughters) were thrilled to see God open the doors for us to serve with Mercy Air in South Africa.
My husband was finally fulfilling his dream, and as his wife, I was excited for him and proud of him. However, due to our having small children to care for, I was unable to go along on any of the mission outreach trips. Over the next few years it was difficult for me to understand what he was experiencing on his trips and hard to relate to him when he came home from a week or so away. At times my perspective became self-focused and negative.
Last week, I finally had the opportunity, with our two-year-old son, to go along on my first mission outreach. On this flight, we took two Early Childhood Development educators to a very remote part of South Africa. Once a month they spend a week training preschool teachers in this area.
As we flew to pick up our passengers, I was impressed with my husband’s ability to not only fly the aircraft (making sense of the many gauges, levers, switches, dials, and lights), but also his ability to navigate our route and simultaneously communicate with the various air traffic controllers who seem to speak a completely different language. It was multi-tasking like I’ve never seen before!
When we landed and collected our passengers, I was impressed with his professionalism, friendliness, helpfulness, and the obvious respect these educators had for him. Soon he had loaded the supplies into the twin-engine aircraft, and we were on our way. As we approached the tiny, dirt air-strip, he flew over checking for animals or other obstacles that might prevent a safe landing. Satisfied that all was well, he landed smoothly. After unloading the aircraft, we piled into the pick-up truck and headed to the place that would be our home for the next six days.
Over the course of the next week, I watched my husband leave his 'pilot' hat with the airplane and don various other hats to include his 'chauffeur' hat while transporting educators, trainers and other and the 'Mr. Fix It' hat while making repairs during his free time at the preschools.
Satisfied that he had done all the repairs he could, he took off his 'Mr. Fix It' hat and just played with the kids, some of whom knew him by name. I watched him draw pictures for the children on the sandy ground. I saw them laugh with joy. I saw him smile with delight. He loved every moment of it.
God has been so faithful. This is what my husband always dreamed of doing and what Mercy Air is all about; making a difference in the lives of people in need by showing God’s love in practical ways – flying, driving, fixing, and encouraging. I am so proud of my husband. Getting to see him wear all these 'hats' has given me a fresh perspective and an increasing admiration and respect for him and for the ministry of Mercy Air.
For the Mercy air team.