31 December 2017

Welcome to the Mercy Air blog . . . . . please scroll down for new posts

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.
This blog is a collection of news and trip updates designed to compliment the Mercy Air web page, Face Book group and other mailed newsletters. Click on a year and read from bottom to top and it should give you a good idea of what we do.

29 November 2017

ASAM Mucombeze, Mosambique

Last week Mercy Air took a team up to the ASAM mission base just north of Chimoio, Mozambique. As we went in our Kodiak aircrat we were also able to offer a couple of seats to Hands@Work to enable some of their guys to visit their own projects.

The standard 'here's us on the way up' photo.
We do sometimes forget just how big Africa is at times - till we look out of the window on flights like these.

Landing at ASAM in the bush in the middle of almost nowhere.
Unpacking the aircraft. Its load carrying capacity is pretty impressive.
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.
There were various aspects to our visit but the main one was for some of our group to help with the twice yearly intensive pastor training that ASAM has been running for many years. There are only so many interesting 'action' photos one can take of a meeting so we will leave it at the introduction shot at the beginning of the course. Safe to say that Nigel and Erin delivered twelve talks during the week and were well received by the pastors, some who had travelled up to three days to attend.
Meanwhile, it was litchi harvest time! That meant for the rest of us picking and sorting about 10 tons of the fruit into various categories for sale. ASAM inherited a small litchi orchard when they moved onto the farm ten years ago and now harvest the fruit to raise some capital to fund their education and medical projects.
Some of us walked to the airstrip in the 'cool' of the morning one day and came upon this dung beetle with it's - well, dung I suppose! Fortunatley this wasn't the African Killer variety - just a normal one!
So, we were all happily beavering on with various jobs when one morning we got a call to say that a 70 year old Brazilian missionary, Josiah, had been taken ill and needed urgent transport to the capital Maputo for surgery. They knew ASAM had a small Cessna 182 and wondered if they could possibly help. As the patient needed to lie down and would also be accompanied by his wife and a translator this was obviously not an option.

But, it just so happened that we were there at just the right time in the Kodiak and had enough fuel to easily do the flight. When the patient arrived we had the aircraft ready and were able to get going almost straight away.
Loading Josiah at ASAM
Josiah holding his wife's hand during the flight.
We got to fly down the border of Zimbabwe on the day that political history was made.
Zimbabwe about 10 miles away.
Less than three hours later we were in the capital Maputo, a journey that would have taken up to three days by road.
Downtown Maputo and the harbour.
Cathy and I helping to unload Josiah on the apron at Maputo.


We were too late to fly back to ASAM the same day so we had to overnight in Maputo with a friend we hadn't seen since our Lesotho days - it was good to catch up.

The next day it was quite toasty on the ground in Maputo...
 ... but it soon cooled to a more manageable 10 deg C at 13000 ft.
While we are singing the praises of our Kodiak aircraft it might be worth mentioning its range. We tanked it up out of Maputo and this pic was taken just under an hour into the flight and shows its range and endurance - the dotted green circe with 45 mins fuel left and the solid green circle when it becomes a glider.
Back at ASAM, normal bush life continued. If you want internet, go and sit outside the office during the hours the generator is running.
Help feed the pets in the evening. I believe this is a Duiker - or something similar!
The week ended and we headed back in what ended up being rather inclement weather. This was the first we saw of the ground and the airport four miles away (about two minutes from landing) after over an hour of flying in a cloud.
Thank you.

Paul and Cathy, for the Mercy Air team.

17 November 2017

Marromeu, Mozambique



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
Rarely is gratitude expressed in this culture, but when questioned about the purpose of the nets, Dorca at least understood that, 'this was to protect her children from Mosquitoes and sickness.'
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.

Thank you.
Dean.
For the Mercy Air team.

Mamoli, village of Xihadlo, Mozambique


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. 

Thank you.
Joel.
For the Mercy Air team.