19 July 2011

Sunny Durban by the Sea

Last weeks business overflowed into this week as we did a flight for a UK church missions team on Monday.

Their church has been helping a Durban hospital who run a rural baby project supplying new mothers with a birth pack containing various items including clothes, nappies and a teddy bear.

Whilst the team visited the sites Paul stayed at the airport and caught up with a few flying friends as well as his son, Matthew, who was able to join them for lunch.
Typical of a lot of these types of trips that the only 'action photo' we can
come up with is one of us all in the plane on the way back - sorry!
The 1 hour 40 minute flight saved them a 9 hour drive.

Mercy Air team

Doing Something Usefull

A moderately productive day in the office was interrupted by a call to get a couple out of Mozambique who had been in an accident. They were part of a 21 strong group from churches in Cape Town and Rustenburg in South Africa, who were at the end of what had been a very successful three week mission trip. They had left Mocuba at 04:00, to get an early start for the first of a three day drive home.

Whilst it was still dark one of their minibuses hit an unmarked and unlit parked lorry in the middle of the road. Two people were killed instantly whilst another, the minister of their church, suffered serious head wounds rendering him unconscious and the drivers wife, Beryl, broke her femur. They were transferred to a local hospital but obviously needed to get back to SA as soon as possible.
The minister had international heath cover and so was medevac'd out later that same day. Beryl's medical insurance, however, only covered her in SA and so Mercy Air was asked to repatriate her and her husband. We quickly prepared the plane and obtained flight permits so that Paul and his wife Cathy could set off as soon as the local international airport opened the following morning.
To give an idea of scale, we flew further than Land's End to John O Groats (the length of the UK) just to get to where we had to pick them up.

As she didn't need any medical attention during the flight she could technically travel as a normal passenger, but of course due to her broken leg she had to lie on a stretcher which she wouodn't be able to do on scheduled airlines. Driving three days back to Johannesburg was obviously out of the question.

On our arrival we found out that the hospital hadn't got the patient ready for travel and also hadn't got a trolley or stretcher available for transport, so she was loaded on an old mattress into the back of a pickup truck and driven to the airport. We then had to pay $12 to allow the truck onto the apron to get near to the plane.
On top of that, and despite pleas on compassionate grounds, the police, who had detained her husband, would not release him as they still wanted him for questioning about the accident. This was very upsetting for them, but it was best that she at least traveled with us and so we began the long flight to Johannesburg.
We arrived in Jhb just before dusk where a proper ambulance met us and whisked her away for surgery.
Paul and Cathy made time for a quick burger and cup of strong coffee before flying back to Nelspruit in the dark.

So, 1700 miles and over 9 hours of flying but the weather was good and it was nice for Paul and Cathy able to spend the day together, doing something useful.

Mercy Air team

11 July 2011

Classroom in a Box

Imagine living in a village so remote that learning to read is only a distant dream.

There are many faced with this exact problem in the delta region of the Zambezi and because of this Anne Herbert, a Mercy Air staff member with 27 years teaching experience and Caitlin Mbewe of YWAM in Marromeu, herself a physics teacher have developed the 'Classroom in a Box' project.

The airstrip right in the middle of Marromeu

The project aims to provide literary resources and training materials to to the people in the delta in their own language and last week we flew a team up to Marromeu to start the process. The first 10 weeks of the Classroom in a Box is based on a chronological childrens Bible and the curriculem covers four learning areas, Bible, Language, Numeracy and Life Skills. It starts with the basic skills needed to master the learning areas.
Anne sorting out the box contents after our arrival

Mercy Air has been working with YWAM in Marromeu for a number of years now using both fixed wing aircraft and the helicopter. The town is the last sizable place on the Zambezi before it empties into the Indian Ocean 40 miles downstream.

The Russians, or at least some of their military hardware, were here during the war, although it seems they had some difficulty in leaving.
This Antonov 32 finished its days after a crash in 1992. (The 210 in front is ours and is working just fine).
There are a number of artillery units around. This T34 tank is in the garden of some YWAM workers but at least it saves having to build a climbing frame or swing - if you can handle its gun barrel being permanently pointed at your house.
Anyway, back to business. The idea is to teach local teachers how to use the box and so Anne, Sally and Samantha bought one up and shared its contents with some teachers and spent time some time getting feedback on how they thought the methods would work.
We will send another team up with the helicopter next time it goes there and they will be able to take it into the really remote areas in the delta. Once this is established the idea is to then extend the project into other areas in Mozambique where we already have existing relations with missionaries.

You can read more about the project at:

Mercy Air team