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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Volunteer Report

Submitted by Ute Hoelscher

April 2012 … half a year later ... and lots of change …

It has been only six months that I came back as a volunteer to Kpong Field for the second time – being “bitten” in July 2011 in Oshkosh. There was so much more to find since my first visit in Ghana last October: running water for the whole field (not yet to be used in terms of showers – but that won’t be too long), another accommodation with living bodies in there: the MoM voluntary team by Michaela and Ben from the US, an almost finished Mini Clinic for first aid support if needed (still needs basic equipment though), the permission to MoM for dropping by plane, the accomplishments of the first drop runs for health education for the first 20 (!) communities, and the concept of how to do those efficiently – and what really made me happy was seeing the young ladies having developed a lot and having learnt so much more about the planes, engineering, maintenance and flying – a great accomplishment – next to all the unforeseen trouble of everyday Ghana-life ...

I spent all nine days of my stay almost entirely at the airfield – might sound boring for some non-knowing-Ghana-people and non-flying-folks, but there was so much happening – although I arrived in between major activities which I have missed: the first national Shistosomiasis conference, Fly-Me-Day, the first MoM drop mission, the first ETCHE training of the community’s representatives for health education, health training for the girls, major TV channels and newspapers reporting about the girls and the project – but what I did not miss was again the kindness, the energy, the enthusiasm, the motivation and the fascination of everybody in the Kpong Field family. I loved to be there.

I visited during my Easter holidays. It was great to share Easter Sunday with the girls at church – such a fascinating Ghanaian service with so much joy, music, dance, family-feeling with a building not having any seats available any more and having visitors sitting on chairs outside – strange for a (formerly) catholic educated German – but much to learn from … It was great to share everyday life with the girls, going to the market, going to the hairdresser with Emanuella – they really do have special hair and special treatment! - , and visiting a strong headed Queen Mom with Michaela. I loved to be around the girls, having fun, eating chocolate (the German chocolate seemed to evaporate in split seconds), sharing their days and thoughts, feeling part of the family.

Having gotten my Ghanaian validation and PUP-license last time, Jonathan checked me out as an instructor sitting right seat of the plane this time. This way I could teach the girls for a few hours and it was fascinating to see how they learnt from one day to the other. They just love flying and they live flying. It is great to observe how much potential is to be seen and how they envision their future by this opportunity.

Lydia is a special case. She not only has a special smile – which the other young ladies have definitely, too – she also has a special situation going. With her handicapped arm and hand she faces a challenge in learning how to fly and to participate in everyday duties around the airfield. Being a special education teacher I feel drawn towards her situation and towards trying to find solutions. She has learnt to use her arm and hand to the best extent but still faces physical restrictions in movement when, among others, using the controls of the planes. A Ghanaian doctor has said that he does not dare to operate further since the risk of damaging the already developed movement is too high.

On my last day we went to a diagnostic center in Accra to get X-rays of Lydia’s arm and hand. It turned out to be a very professional and well managed center. I was impressed by one of their educational wall pictures: “Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (27 March 1845 – 10 February 1923) who was a German physicist and who, on 8 November 1895, produced and detected electromagnetic radiation today known as X-rays or Röntgen rays, an achievement that earned him the first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901“ (wikipedia). Seemed like we have been at the right place ... The professionals working with Lydia have been fascinated by her story and accomplishment and I am sure that WAASPS will have new students soon … More important though, I have gotten very good X-rays of her hand and I will try to find feedback and recommendations by German doctors hoping that there might be some solution for her. But help and answers can be given from anywhere in the world ...

MoM/WAASPS/AvTechAcademy/ETCHE are different bodies but one organization – Jonathan, Patricia, Juliet, Emanuella, Lydia, Michaela, Ben, Mr. Solo (the carpenter) and the other hard working people at Kpong Airfield are different individuals but one family … highly inspiring and worthwhile to support.

April 2012

Ute Hoelscher
Flight Instructor FAA (USA)
Flight Instructor JAR-FCL (Europe)
Vice Principal of the Statewide Center for Students with Visual Impairments: www.lfs-schleswig.de

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Ute, you have done so much to help move things forward at the airfield! THANK YOU!