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April 19th, 2010 | Africa

More about M.A.F. …

As mentioned in previous posts, I came into contact with M.A.F. for the first time in Dodoma, where they have a base on the edge of the Dodoma Airfield.

The M.A.F. logo on the gates at the entrance to their base in Dodoma...

Mission Aviation Fellowship was established in 1945, and at the end of the Second World War, there were an abundance of pilots, and not enough work in the field of aviation… I t was decided to set up an organization, who would work in the more remote areas of the world, to provide services where any other forms of travel are difficult, dangerous, exhausting and in some cases, impossible…

Inside one of the hanagrs...

Today, M.A.F. operates in more than 30 countries around the world, using more than 130 light aircraft and Helicopters. It is estimated that every seven minutes, somewhere in the world, a M.A.F. aircraft takes off on a mission… They are represented for the main part in developing countries, as far off the beaten track as Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, Cambodia and Haiti (let’s not forget Dodoma!!)

One of the Cessnas, ready and waiting to undertake a mission...

One of the Cessnas, ready and waiting to undertake a mission...

They are a Christian organization, and their continued operations are made possible through donations, churches and Trusts, which allows them to offer their services at subsidized rates.

They have a dedicated crew of bush clearers, who travel throughout the countries they are based in, clearing areas in which they can build an airstrip so that their bush pilots can land their aircraft where most would dare to fly…

Medical evacuations from remote areas are often undertaken and very recently, a motorcyclist had to be airlifted from within Tanzania, and flown to Nairobi for stabilization, before being flown on the Europe for treatment of a “close to broken” neck…  Being a Christian organization, M.A.F. also ensures that missionaries can be flown into the most remotes areas imaginable…

In order to make ends meet, they also offer charter flights, as well as regular shuttle services between the major towns, if and when aircraft are available… They transport freight, medical supplies, and even repatriate motorbikes, judging by the photo in one of their brochures… I waved it under the Big Fella’s nose to reassure him, in the same way that the M.A.F. operation had reassured me, that somewhere out there, if ever we were in a REAL pickle, a M.A.F. plane could fly to our rescue…

Glenn assists me again...this time getting the side stand switch properly wired...

M.A.F. Dodoma is run by a great bunch of guys, whose families live in a compound just behind the aircraft hangars… When I went over to use their wireless internet the one afternoon, children were playing cricket in the lane between the houses, I could hear splashing in the pool, and sound of general merriment usually associated with a happy and content group of people…

The problematic Ohlins shock lies wrapped and ready to accompany Glenn to Johannesburg... I could hardly believe my luck...!!

I was accorded a warm welcome when I arrived, looking for Glenn Cousley, who helped me sort out a few niggles with the bike. A French technician, Pierre, responsible for teaching aircraft maintenance, and ensuring that the planes are kept and operated under the highest safety standards and procedures, brought a packet of peanut brittle to me as a parting gift, as well as a little booklet entitled “the little book of character”, which I will carry with me and refer to often… The peanut brittle, by the way, was made right there in Dodoma, and was some of the best I have ever tasted… I met many guys there with whom I had something in common… One of them shared a birthday with me… another had the same name as me…

I could have spent days chatting to the good folk at M.A.F., as I am sure there are many a hair-raising story that intrepid pilots such as these, could relate… I wish I had thought to take a photo of the group of guys I had met, but many of them were busy attending to the daily tasks set out for them…

I was told about an extremely ambitious project that was being undertaken on Lake Tanganyika… Apparently a huge vessel was being assembled on the shore of the lake, and this boat would have a helipad built onto it… It would serve as a mobile hospital, sailing up and down the lake, visiting remote villages and administering emergency medical attention when and where it was most needed… Doctors would use the boat as a base, and fly by chopper into the most inhospitable places imaginable, to arrange clinics for the sick and infirm… A fantastic idea, which I hope comes to full fruition…

I am hoping to meet more of the men and women who staff M.A.F. in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, and I am sure that I will find the same determination and dedication among them, as I found at the small airfield in Dodoma…

Good work, Guys, you are making a HUGE difference to the lives of thousands of people…

I salute you…

One of the M.A.F. hangars at Dodoma airfield...

5 comments to More about M.A.F. …

  • Mark Behr

    Always encouraging to find people willing to sacrifice in order to serve. Glad that you were able to spend time with the MAF crew. Hope that the shock is repaired (or replaced) properly this time.

  • Glenn Moller

    Hey there Ron,glad to see you safe. Pity the bike taking a bit of strain but those roads will do it…and you carrying a bit of weight…maybe you should eat some of that food, so you can loose some weight…haha.
    God be with you
    Take care

  • Yeah, great bunch of guys, working under tough conditions with limited funding…. Not easy…

  • Thanks Glenn, things going a bit better now, but still tough up here… Humidity is a killer…!!

  • ERARDY.E.TARIMO

    hi Ron,perhaps you will wonder who iam,we shared with Glen to fix your bycle at M.A.F D0doma.Iam the one leaning on your Big Bycle beside Glen at M.A.A car work shop at Dodoma,since then we only remember the trail of your bycle and dust,nd its good that your blog helps us to know where you are in the world,stay fit and strong

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