The Northern Territory Government of Australia has deemed MAF in Arnhem Land to be an essential service.
MAF has continued to work with its partners and the government to support the Aboriginal homelands and communities during this trying time.
Earlier this week, MAF was able to transport 450 kilos of food boxes to Howard Island in AL. This flight is significant as it has helped the Yolngu remain in their community to prevent risk of COVID-19 exposure.
The food boxes were generously donated by Woolworths.
🏔️ Emergency cargo and winter fuel flights in Lesotho ❄️
Grant Strugnell, an MAF pilot in Lesotho, updates us on the situation there, as the cold weather starts to set in:
‘There has been a lot going on in the world over the last 2 months. But in the remote mountains, it feels like life as normal. This could be because many people have regular day-to-day survival on their mind.
‘Life in the mountains with winter approaching is a tough time. Unlike in ‘Western’ winter, the people of Lesotho are cold both outside and inside their homes, which can be very challenging. Crops are usually being harvested and stored, with the harvesting taking up long days for whole villages.
‘The lockdown in Lesotho has caused everything to slow down. The government department that we fly for, the Department of Health, has also seen a slowing down of their work, as they are restricted to working from home like the rest of the world. As such, we have just been doing emergency and high priority flights. In the last two weeks however, as the most remote clinics get ready for winter, we have had a number of high priority cargo flights.
‘We essentially fill up the plane with as much cargo as we can. This is usually a combination of LP (liquefied petroleum) gas bottles and clinic supplies, including drugs and day-to-day necessities. Some places are so remote that we even fly wood and coal to them, as it is their only way to get access to heating fuel.
‘I enjoy these flights because I get to be the sole occupant of the plane, and it gives me a chance to review emergency procedures and practise some vital skills that passengers don’t usually enjoy very much! I also get to do something very practical in delivering much needed supplies to the remote communities.’
Our first passenger flight since COVID travel restrictions were relaxed carried a medevac patient to Juba for treatment.
Pray with us, for a miraculous recovery for the patient, who sustained a nasty break to her leg after a fall three weeks ago.
At the end of the day…
“As part of operating during the COVID19 pandemic our aircraft need to be disinfected at the end of the day and I have the honor of doing just that😎😄💪”
These are the words of our humble pilot, Joseph E Tua.
MAF Pilots Ryan Unger and Ian Purdey took off on Friday morning in 5R-AMF, our Cessna 182 in Madagascar, packed full with coronavirus-related materials: test kits and PPE.
Test kits dropped off in Tulear and Fort Daphin will be taken straight back to the hospital and then onto the capital Antananarivo, where the only test centre is located.
We are in contact and have offered our services to CNOSSE, Madagascar’s national operational and strategic centre for epidemiological surveillance.
As a control and coordination centre for the government’s response to health threats, CNOSSE will shape the rapid and coordinated interventions across the country.
Today’s update comes from Pirita Korhonen, wife of MAF Tanzania Programme Manager Jarkko in Arusha
‘The South Maasai area nursing safari began with waiting for the clouds to clear at Arusha airport, but Jarkko was able to set off eventually.
‘The nursing team prepared themselves in clinics with personal protective equipment donated by MAF. In addition to vaccinations, also gave coronavirus advice and education. The number of coronavirus cases is increasing in Tanzania (284 at time of writing).
‘Jarkko cleared bushes from the runway in Lesirwai village with an axe, while collecting firewood. As he flew back home, the sun was already peeking from behind the clouds, and the flight visibility was better.
‘On arrival back at the MAF base in Arusha, it turned out that an extra passenger had flown in the luggage of the airplane – a young scorpion who was ingenious disguised in the firewood!’
Italian Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli once said, “In difficult times, fashion is always outrageous” and with the face mask being the hottest fashion item for 2020, never has this statement been more true.
Even our MAF staff serving in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, are sporting 2020’s most popular trend with style as they go about serving those most isolated.
Praying for you DRC Staff!
One Saturday morning, MAF Liberia pilot Steven Biggs was enjoying his first coffee of the day. Next minute, he got a phone message – there’s a suspected case of COVID-19 in the remote town of Zwedru.
A diagnosis of COVID-19 in remote Liberia could be devastating, as there is very little in the way of health facilities, medical staff and no intensive care units or ventilators. The president of Liberia requested that Ministry of Health staff go out there and test immediately.
Only an hour later, Steven arrived at the airport and began preparing the aircraft. A short time later, he was airborne with Ministry of Health staff and their testing equipment on-board, heading to Zwedru.
After a 60-minute flight they arrived. If not for this MAF plane, they would have had to travel for 20+ hours on terrible roads and back again, which would waste precious time and increase the likelihood of more infections.
‘God has placed MAF here in this country for just such a reason. I feel so privileged to be here.’
Today, the team at MAF South Sudan flew more coronavirus testing kits for the Department of Health and World Health Organization (WHO). The 35-minute flight to Nimule, a village near the border with Uganda, was flown by Pilot Wim Hobo who explains how the test kits will be used:
‘There’s a main tarmac road coming from Uganda, crossing the border at Nimule, going up to Juba. It’s one of the few tarmac roads we have in the country, and most of the supplies like food and fuel sold in Juba come in along this road.
‘Trucks are still allowed to cross the border from Uganda to bring in food, but the truck drivers need to be tested for coronavirus before they can enter South Sudan. So that’s why we have brought all these test kits today; they will mainly be used for the truck drivers, to ensure no-one brings the virus into the country.’
Thanks to the brilliant MAF dispatch team for preparing the plane!
Kees, one of our pilots, talks to villagers in Papua Indonesia, about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Along with that, he flew in and distributed flyers that our staff in Papua are using to educate isolated people about the coronavirus.
This weekend we flew a team in Bangladesh from UNFAO – Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) and BRAC, an NGO, to Khulna. In conjunction with the Government of Bangladesh, they facilitated training to community support teams.
These support teams will provide information flow to communities, identify cases/needs, and provide early response to those infected by COVID-19. This is a pilot project which they hope to expand to other areas in the country.
MAF Angola pilot Marijn Goud made this great vlog of a recent flight he did for the Griffin family who work as missionaries in the remote village of Luau, on the DRC border. They needed to travel to the capital, Luanda, so they can be repatriated back to Canada.
Due to travel lockdown, road travel was near enough impossible. The Canadian Embassy asked permission from and Angolan officials to allow Marijn to fly, which was granted. The Griffin family praise the Lord for this flight, one of only a handful of flights in the air on that day.
MAF Angola are so happy to be able to keep safely serving our partners and missionaries who still need essential transport at this time of lockdown.
The MAF Engineering team based in Mareeba, Australia, are always looking at ways to improve systems and products, and it is no different during these difficult days of coronavirus.
Ed Hawthorn, Fleet Development Manager, was tasked with developing a physical separation between the cockpit and cabin in MAF’s GippsAero GA8 and Cessna 208 aircraft. This will improve the safety for the pilot and passengers in the aircraft.
Ed proposed a solution to our Design Manager, Phil Andrews, for a ‘Crew Screen’ for the GA8 and 208 Aircraft. This design is a low cost, lightweight, flexible, and transparent screen which is secured inside the aircraft, just behind the crew seats, using velcro tape. This means it can be easily removed in the case of an emergency.
Phil provided cross-sectional drawings to Byron Aviation who produced a sample of each for trial fitting. The GA8 version has been trialled and required some changes, and the C208 is about to be tested out too. The GA8 barrier has been ordered by the three MAF programmes that operate this aircraft – Arnhem Land, Mareeba, and Timor-Leste. The 208 version will be ordered once the design has been finalised.
MAF missionary Emily Strugnell based in Lesotho, Africa, shares a simple idea to help flatten the curve of coronavirus in a difficult area.
“As our mountain kingdom braces for COVID-19, we’ve been looking for ways to help people we love take the most basic measures to protect themselves.
At Pulane Children’s Centre in Lesotho, where I help out, we have running water and our kids have become hand-washing machines. We celebrate that, while at the same time realizing we are part of a community of rural mountain villages where very few have that privilege.
We shared some ideas with our staff at the center, and one woman took action. Her home does not have running water, so she came up with this clever water delivery system using the supplies she had on hand. She told me that having the ability to help protect her family lifts some of the anxiety around COVID-19.
We are hoping and praying that more families in the area will take advantage of this simple system.”
—Emily Strugnell, MAF Lesotho.
The video shows Josephina, daughter of Emily’s coworker, scrubbing up at a make-shift water dispenser.
At 7am on the 8th of April, Pilot Andrew Macdonald and MAF Timor-Leste’s Operations Assistant, Aldo Falo took off in the MAF aircraft VH-MFM for the region of Oecusse. Oecusse is an area of Timor-Leste which is surrounded by West Timor (Indonesia). To access this region from Dili is usually done via sea ferry or by road taking many hours. But with a State of Emergency declared in Timor-Leste due to the current COV19 crisis, Oecusse has become locked away from the world. The ferries have stopped. The borders are closed. They are seemingly alone and cut off from everyone else to face this crisis.
The people of Oecusse, however, are not on their own. The flight on the morning of the 8th of April was proof of this fact. In Dili, eighty kilometres away, the staff of OXFAM are sending help. Kathy Richards, Country Director of Oxfam Timor-Leste explains, “Today we are sending 430 kilograms of hand washing kits, soap and posters to the Timorese people of Oecusse. 68,000 people in Oecusse are without ferries and commercial flights to main land Timor-Leste. Surrounded by Indonesia, Oecusse is a border region vulnerable to COVID transmission. Oxfam has worked in Oecusse for twenty years. We won’t let them down. A specially approved cargo delivery filled with Oxfam resources and using the Mission Aviation
Fellowship plane. We are working together for a special delivery for Oecusse. This will get COVID information packs to 14,350 households and hand washing kits to 1500 families. Thank you MAF – Safe flight!”
Pilot Andrew reported that, “when we were loading the plane there were quite a few people there to help. The Oxfam staff stressed that the information flyers were the most important resource on the plane, as the need to educate people about COVID19 was the first line of defense. The load was bulky rather than heavy, but we got it all into the aircraft without too much hassle. It took fifty minutes to fly down the coast. There were a few isolated clouds on the way with a high overcast layer which kept the temperature down en-route and when unloading. The importance of this flight was clear from the beginning! Being able to get education material and appropriate protective supplies to Oecusse was hugely significant for all of us involved.”
MAF pilot Phil Henderson shares a bit about what MAF in Chad is doing to provide relief in response to COVID-19.