About Bill Harding

Flight for CMA Longochuk 07Nov2014 (3)By Karyn Ball (November 2014)

Chris Ball recently flew a MAF plane full of influential cargo to Longochuk, South Sudan, for Christian Mission Aid (CMA). He landed in Longochuk without any problems – an airstrip which isn’t very visible from the air, and rough upon landing, the surface being uneven with lots of ruts in a swampy area.

CMA staff were thrilled to see Chris and the cargo, despite the fact that the community was dealing with some tense political stuff and CMA was considering an evacuation, yet again, for their staff.  John and Simon, two CMA nurse practitioners from Kenya, were the first to meet the plane. They unloaded the plane, box after box after box. While chatting, Chris discovered the boxes contained vaccines in powdered form.  The CMA staff add water to create the necessary vaccines when required. Other boxes contained loads of medication and other supplies for the clinic.

As Chris looked around he couldn’t see any vehicles in sight. It turned out there are literally no vehicles in this community. So the next question clearly was, “How close is the clinic?”

“Oh, just ten kilometers,” they grinned as they picked up the boxes and started carrying them on foot. John and Simon explained they had a new CMA clinic, but it was not functional.  They literally couldn’t treat any patients at the clinic because there were no medical supplies to treat the patients with.

Chris watched as a handful of committed CMA workers, and a bunch of community members, happily carried off 200 kilograms of supplies more than ten kilometers by foot to open their clinic. Without fanfare, or fancy opening ceremonies, it was a humbling sight.

Praise God for the invaluable vaccines, medications and clinic supplies, facilitating the opening of a new medical clinic in South Sudan.

IMG_0519 (3)This photo by David Francis of MAF’s West DRC program shows MAF’s aircraft being disinfected in Boende, where it delivers supplies and medical workers to combat Ebola. The airplane gets disinfected inside and out before it leaves Boende, and the passengers’ feet are disinfected when the plane lands and before it takes off.

Pilot Mike DuPuis flies cargo for a CMA clinic to Waat, South Sudan“Since it is the rainy season at the moment I have been doing a lot of airstrip assessments before each landing.  It could be because a herd of cattle is grazing on the runway, kids and dogs using the airstrip as a playground, people using the runway as an easy means for a footpath instead of the mud, or the airstrip being under water or soaked from a previous rain.” ~ Chris Ball, new pilot in South Sudan program

 Mabior is an example of one such airstrip where the cattle love to roam. As the plane could be heard in the distance, a man chased cattle off the airstrip, only to have them run right back on when he turned his back. Even when the plane landed, a cow ran along side the plane and cut onto the airstrip behind it. In Waat, where the soil is especially treacherous after a rain, the cattle use the runway as a footpath, adding to the many other footprints in the muddy surface.

1MAF is supporting efforts to combat a deadly Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Our pilots and aircraft are transporting medical personnel and supplies into the remote Boende district of the DRC. In a statement released on 2 September, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said 53 cases of Ebola have been identified in Boende, including 31 deaths.

‘So far we have conducted two flights into Boende,’ said Nick Frey, MAF Programme Manager in DRC. ‘There is a small airstrip in the area that we can use to deliver medical personnel and supplies such as personal protective equipment, medication, syringes, and quarantine equipment. We have also carried specimens out to Kinshasa for testing.’

This outbreak is thought to be a different strain of Ebola to the West Africa outbreak which has now claimed more than 1,900 lives.


A lifeline in DRC

MAF has nine aircraft in four areas of DRC — in Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, Bunia, and Nyankunde. From these bases they fly to remote regions of the vast country, using small, rugged airstrips to serve isolated communities.

In DRC, MAF supports the work of some 170 churches, medical organisations, relief agencies, and others seeking to make life better for those who live in the vast jungles.

‘MAF has been involved in Ebola response several times,’ said John Boyd, President and CEO of MAF USA. ‘In the 2007 and 1995 outbreaks in the DRC, our planes and people played a key role. We are experienced in such situations and have a plan in place to control the risk.’

Last year MAF conducted 1,152 medical-related flights in the DRC, including medical emergency flights and delivery of vaccines and medicines.