This is a bit of a catch up, but it has been a very busy week. The 24th was fun as I got back in the 206 after a long time flying the Caravan for a flight around East Congo.I haven’t been in the “little plane” for a while and it was good to be back, even if it was slow and long. I went to Mungbere first to pick up a couple hospital workers for Isiro, then over to Nebobongo to pick up a wonderful Irish missionary lady to go back to her home in Mulita. She is really quite remarkable. Even though we fly in a lot of her supplies she sometimes has an urgent need for something at the hospital so she rides her bike a whole day to get to the closest little town, gets what she needs, stays the night and then rides back the whole nextday. As much as we are honored to be flying her and doing our little bit to help her out in a very difficult situation, she always makes us feel like the big stars and sends us a Christmas card every year with a gift for all the pilots to “go out and have a meal’ as a thank you. I don’t know how some people can be so wonderful, but it makes working here a joy. When I got home that night we got the news that one of the vehicles from Virunga National Park, where my sister Lu works, was hit by an RPG and 3 parks scouts and 5 army guys were killed around 40 kilometers from the park headquarters. I think that brings to around 140 parks people killed since 1996. This is not like Yellowstone here! You can see more on the link to their web site.
On the 27th I flew men from SP (Samaritans Purse) out to Banda and landed on a bit of the road that has been fixed up to give clearance for the wings and a little more running room for the wheels as well. That always makes flying more interesting.
I flew on to Isiro and our worker there was in a bit of a daze. His young baby had died of malaria a few days earlier. You hear cold statistics about diseases like this taking huge numbers of lives in Africa every year. W.H.O. says that in Africa, a child dies every 30 seconds of malaria, but when it is our friends and their kids it stops being numbers and becomes faces and it touches us all the time.I flew in some big VSat equipment from Entebbe to Bunia last week and this week our IT guys arrived from the States and Senegal to install it so I took them out to Dingila in the bush yesterday, the 28th. Souleymane and Owen are TALL and make me look pretty short in comparison. MAF works a lot to do the technical stuff for missions and the installations will help to meet the communications needs of MSF (Doctors Without Borders), an NGO that we work a lot with here. They are helping to relieve some of the problems of malaria and sleeping sickness in this area and much more.