As coronavirus restrictions lift across Uganda and heavy rains ease up, MAF is finally permitted to make its first emergency disaster relief flight to the flood-hit district of Kasese.
‘The day we’ve been waiting for and working towards these past two long months, has finally arrived – our first emergency flight since the restrictions and floods, Writes MAF Uganda’s Communications Officer, Jill Vine.
Following a crippling ten-week lockdown of grounded flights because of coronavirus, our partially submerged airstrip in Kajjansi Airfield due to major floods and a record swarm of locusts in East Africa 20-times more serious than last year, we finally have breakthrough.
We have been granted permission to fly cargo to Kasese and bring some much welcome relief to the local people. MAF Pilot, Greg Vine, got the call and was ready in 20 minutes.’
‘Four planes, fully loaded with relief’
Since MAF’s last Ugandan flight on the 22nd March, during their downtime, MAF engineers have been maintaining aircraft and repairing the flooded runway at Kajjansi Airfield. MAF pilots have been keeping their licensing and training up to date with their flight simulator, but now is the time for action as Jill explains:
‘There hasn’t been heavy rain in the last five days, which has helped our airstrip to dry out and cause Lake Victoria’s water levels to decrease.
Greg headed to the safe and dry Entebbe International Airport with a third MAF plane to join two of our fleet, which have already been waiting in readiness, since our usual base at Kajjansi Airfield had been flooded.
Our team then spent the entire day loading up the three aircraft. The next day, our fourth plane was successfully flown out of Kajjansi Airfield to join the other three planes at Entebbe. The four planes, fully loaded with relief, were bound for Kasese where, two-weeks ago, people watched their homes get washed away.’
‘Hope has kept us all going’
Nearly 25,000 homes have been affected and around 173,000 people have been displaced. Bridges have been cut off and several roads are inaccessible. (The Guardian).
According to a report by Kasese District Local Government dated 28th May, 25 schools have been swept away or severely damaged and four health centres have been destroyed. Farms are submerged and many shops are no more.
In the wake of the destruction, those affected desperately need shelter, food, access to clean water, medicine and blankets.
It usually takes six hours to drive to Kasese, but the floods have destroyed the major bridge between Fort Portal and Kasese, which is preventing government relief by land. MAF can help to fill that void. It’s what Jill Vine and the team have been hoping for:
‘Hope has kept us all going. Hope is beautiful.’
‘Extraordinary times need God’s intervention’
‘Although the waiting hasn’t been easy, we are so relieved to stand with Uganda during this difficult time. It makes us even more thankful for this breakthrough and eager to celebrate MAF Uganda’s first flight since the 22nd March.
These extraordinary times have us in desperate need of God’s intervention. Please keep MAF in your prayers as we forge ahead to do all that we can where we’re most needed.
Continue to pray for the floods to totally dissipate and for restrictions to lift even further so that people can return to their livelihoods, which were abruptly stopped over two months ago. Before coronavirus, they were already struggling with hunger on their meagre incomes.
Pray for the people of Uganda to look to their Father for His mercy and healing and that they would appreciate MAF as a partner who can shoulder these burdens occurring across their nation. Your strong prayers are invaluable. Thank you for standing with us and faithfully covering us with your support.’
On Saturday 30th May and Monday 1st June, MAF joined forces with the Ugandan government and the Inter Religious Council of Uganda to continue to fly much needed food supplies and hygiene products to Kasese District.
Story and photos by Jill Vine for MAF Uganda