With your help the people of West Africa have "a chance, not only to change their own lives and their own destinies, but to change the future of an entire generation".

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Captains report

Submitted by Jonathan Porter

Wow it was a busy week. Wings are now painted, cowling is on (still working on the special oil cooling duct solution we need here).. Aileron mixer is in and operational. Decided to use turnbuckles on the control lines.
Cancelled all leave for all personnel pending getting this bird in the air. Nobody complained - in fact all of the wonderful staff here seem more than happy to work 24 hours a day to make this project a reality.

Did some flying within 30 minutes of the airfield and identified at least 3 large villages which are many hours from the nearest doctor. All have land-able areas near the sites. It made me wonder whether a 'hopping' service could work. Imagine.... land at site one, small clinic.... hop the 6 minutes to site two, small clinic, ditto site three, idem site four and then home. It is worth noting, that a 6 minute hop equates to 15km. 15km in the bush equates to more than half a day hike - if you are sick, probably longer - if it is rainy season... maybe simply not possible.

These villages are amazing - well looked after, well organised but clearly lacking resources. These people do not ASK for help - they would carry on without it, without a complaint. The fact of the matter is that the wonderful people in these villages DESERVE help. Nobody else will take a doctor or a nurse there - thereis no road. Let us be honest and accept that 99.99% of doctors do not want to hike for hours through the bush to provide health care to people who can make a small or no contribution to their healthcare. Can you blame the doctor? Moreover, should you ignore the people?

The service coming on line here will provide support to those who otherwise would never get any. But the same service will help those in the bigger towns by providing quick and easy access for medical professionals to provide clinics that would not otherwise occur and, of course, the emergency transport for those who need it.

It is so amazing that those with the money to support this kind of operation would be happy to pay for the 'medi-vac' facility it provides, IF they need it, but will not support its development, nor do they appear understand that those in rural areas NEED IT all of the time.

Over the coming months the scene will be changing here - those reading this are a part of it. We in the workshop are excited and thank all of you for your support - the birth of a dream is about to happen. The first cry of the baby's engine bursting into life is days away (hopefully Friday) and the out-dooring of the latest addition of a hope for many will take place in just fourteen days.

We still need support, this project has had so little support. We see NGO's driving cars around that cost as much or more than this little plane - and they cannot spare even $5 to help. Embassies of the major countries have repeatedly turned down applications for support, as has Proctor and Gamble, Bill Gates Foundation, Oprah Winfrey. and so many others. We believe that they will reassess their positions and provide assistance to this project only when THEY need it. These are facts we need to accept. In fact I think it makes us stronger.

I think that the worst comment we have received in all that we have done to this point, came from from a registered NGO providing air rescue and other health services - "If they cant afford to be airlifted [for $5,000], then they cant afford health care." - POPPYCOCK - a life is a life, healthcare should be a RIGHT, like clean water and education - in my opinion, for what it is worth.

"If we do not establish suitable health care delivery systems for those at the bottom of the socio-economic-ladder we have no right to have climbed the ladder, standing on the shoulders of those who came before - and we should watch our steps because we have a long way to fall. I am happy to be working at the bottom of the ladder with people on the way up - and to let them stand on my shoulders, because it is more rewarding than trying to share the narrow rungs at the top where the self-caring people will push others off without a second thought just to keep their rung".

Let this be the week that ZAF breathes for the first time and let us all get ready for the out-dooring of the first MoM plane that will change so many lives in the coming years.