Submitted by Jonathan Porter
A friend said to me this weekend 'You are so lucky to be able to do all these things - I wish I could do something like this...' as he looked at the MoM garden, AvTech Academy and the Kpong Airfield operations flowing with minds eager to change their world...I responded 'This is the sort of thing we all like to talk about doing, but the only difference is we have made the sacrifices that are necessary for it to happen...' and I added 'in return for sacrifices, there is so much satisfaction...'
We currently have three volunteers in the house, each having made their sacrifices to be a part of what goes on in the field, and many of you are making sacrifices to support the efforts of MoM and the other life changing activities that go on around the airfield - and it really shows that sacrifice is not something painful, but something rewarding, if you add up the checks and balances!
I see the sacrifices that Matthew makes to be a part of all that goes on. He has turned down a very wonderful job offer in France, he has given up the opportunity to do so many things. Of course, his being out here has also sacrificed parts of his physical body too. He still suffers daily from the effects of the accident five years ago. Despite all of the pain, physical and mental, he continues to make sacrifices. He gives his time to help with the Fulani school and all the other little challenges for individuals in that community. He sits and chats at length with Mr Solo, Kojo, Amos, etc and talks about each person he deals with as a person with needs, abilities and potential far more than just 'employees' or 'friends' or 'contacts'. He sacrifices the opportunity to be somewhere else, to do something else - and he complaineth not. Of course he is frustrated, agonised and angry on a regular basis, but that is all part of the sacrifice - and the best part is - he does not see it as a sacrifice, he sees it as an opportunity given to him.
In the same way I look at Patricia. She has made sacrifices in relation to her family, friends and opportunities to do something else, somewhere else. She has had job offers all over the world, as well as offers to be a 'model' and more. So many people tell her that she should persue a career in airline aviation, for she is really, really capable of it, but she refuses, she sees another opportunity. She is so commited to the students and regular visitors to the airfield. She said the other day 'I sometimes feel as if I have given birth ten times' referring to the 'demands' she receives as if she is the mother of ten children! Of course, she may get twitchy at times, but she still focuses on the long term potential and possiblities of her sectors of activity. Patricia's commitment to sharing her learning and skills with others is so inspiring, and yes, she gets frustrated and angry at times too, but the rewards outweigh the inconveniences.
I look at what I used to earn and have, and regret not one thing that has been a necessary loss or distancing that has become a part of making this happen. I was once asked why I continue with this instead of 'earning good money' elsewhere. I have turned down job offers, opportunities and proposals that would make most people gasp in disbelief, but I have not an ounce of regret, for the satisfaction, the reward of a smile, the amazing changes in peoples lives that are a part of what we do are irreplaceable. Interestingly, that goes not only for the contact with the people in the rural areas, for I also have a lot of contact with business people and visitors from overseas - and I see a change in them! I love to see when a business man sits next to a young person from a rural location and limited access to many things, and chats openly and freely, crossing the cultural and economic divides that simply cannot exist at an airfield. It is as if the people who walk into the special place we call Kpong Field have a new identity as they cross the apron and become a part of a community, without race, colour, creed or other dividing limitation. And, when the business man gets his solo or licence from the WAASPS flying school, he is cheered on equally as those who have come from another background.
All of us sacrifice the opportunity to earn more money, live in easier surroundings, have easy power solutions, easy water solutions and easy shopping/catering solutions - not to mention cars that give fewer challenges. But we all accept it as a necessary part of making the changes to peoples lives in the way that MoM uniquely does.
With Rex Pemberton here, I was talking about what we do as he pumped me for information, and then I paused and said, 'but your adventures are so much more'... he looked at me and said 'but those were adventures for adrenaline, yours is an adventure that touches so many peoples lives'. For a great adventurer and sportsman to make that comment, it hit me hard in the chest. I had never realised that it was that. We say 'changing lives, one flight at a time' but actually we are changing lives every second of every day 'sacrifice by sacrifice'. Of course, Rex has turned that 'adrenaline pumping climb' into a motivational career that touches lives as he talks about it, but the point he made, caught me off guard.
When our Moslem neighbours sacrifice a sheep at Eid, they do so willingly. It is a pleasure for them to make that sacrifice. So, as we make our daily sacrifices by how and where we live, and count not the enormous opportunity costs associated with this way of life, I would like to thank all of you making your sacrifces to read this, the donations, the prayers, the gifts of school materials, loans and more - for without your sacrifices, our sacrifices would not be be possible, and without our corporate sacrifice, lives would not be touched, changed and given new hope, new opportunities - because we give first, and we receive the satisfcation - and that is payment enough.
This weekend we will be doing our annual 'Fly Me Day' for children from the villages; 20 from Kete Krachi (their transport, accommodation and feeding sponsored by VLTC, thanks Martin), 45 from Battorkope and surrounding villages from the Eastern Region, Upper Manya flood affected areas (transport sponsored by PLAN Ghana), 20 from Techiman (Sponsored by the Aysitu International School) and 20 from Carol Grey School in Somanya (sponsored by the school). There will be at least 12 teachers accompanying them. So, you can do the math - 105+12 = 117.... and we will try to fly all of them. WAASPS will cancel its flying school activities for the day, student pilots and pilots will come up to marshall and manage the crowd, Nurse Lydia will be on First Aid, we will all give our 100% to make it happen. WAASPS will not charge MoM for the fuel or wear and tear on the aircraft, the pilots (Patricia, Capt. Yaw, Melissa and Erin) giving their time and energy without counting the costs.
Sponsorship of the flying has been taken in charge completely by WAASPS, but we would be happy for any body else who is ready to help offset the costs. All donations towards this event will be used towards the completion of the four seat air-ambulance, which is currently about $45,000 from being fitted out as required for the Lake Outreach (to those whose loans we need to clear, thank you for patiently waiting for repayments). We encourage you to make donations directly to the account for MoM at Zenith Aircraft Company, that way we can avoid some of the heavy bank charges in our part of the world (over 10% of the original sum gets lost to transfers).
If you can make a little sacrifice, we can really start making a difference to those far from the roads, our sacrifices alone are not enough, we need more help. Thank you for considering this, if you want to help on the cash side, please let us know, if you want to help in person on Saturday the 5th March - please let us know, we always appreciate more marshals... always!