Story by By Katie Machell    

“A huge challenge”, “really enjoyable”, and “full of variety: no two days are the same”; these phrases could easily describe the work of a MAF pilot. They are in fact the words of Justin Welby, first-time passenger with MAF and 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, describing his new role.

Archbishop Welby and his wife Caroline, together with his Secretary for Anglican Communion Affairs Joanna Udal, and Eliud Wabukala, the Archbishop of Kenya, engaged the services of MAF Kenya to fly them to Dodoma, Tanzania for the installation of the country’s new archbishop. On a beautifully sunny afternoon, ably captained by pilot Adrian Rose, they enjoyed a smooth trip in a PC12, and were even able to catch a brief glimpse of Mount Kilimanjaro on the way.

Thanks to a gap year spent in Kenya and his previous work in the oil industry, the Archbishop is a seasoned traveller in Africa, remembering particularly well his experiences as a passenger on the small planes that fly around Nigeria. He was reassured by Programme Manager Ian Sinkinson that his trip with MAF should be significantly less hair-raising!

He was not really aware of the work of MAF prior to this trip, and was very interested to learn more from Ian, about both the local and international work of the organisation; he was also presented with a copy of MAF Co-Founder Stuart King’s ‘Hope Has Wings’ book in order to discover more of the story at his leisure.

During the flight, the Archbishop shared something of the challenges he faces in his role, the biggest of which he described as “working out what not to do”. The prioritisation of need, especially when it appears so overwhelming, always presents a struggle, as no doubt every MAF Programme Manager and Operations Director would also attest to.

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From 17-19 May a team from the Cairns and Mareeba offices of MAF in Australia pushed a wheelbarrow in 20 seconds bursts 140 kilometres from Mareeba to Chillagoe following the ‘Wheelbarrow Way’ taken by early settlers.  They were one of 73 teams entered in the Great Wheelbarrow Race raising money for their nominated charity.  In their case it was to buy fuel to enable medical evacuation flights in Timor-Leste.  MAF’s Flying Barrows raised over $10,000 (and the total is still growing).  One of the most exciting donations was a gift of over 1,000 Kina (Au$450) from the MAF staff in PNG.  A number of the Mt Hagen hangar staff gave over a day’s salary in order to support the work of their colleagues in Timor-Leste.

But it wasn’t just the ten runners who made this happen, there were fund raisers and those who gave so generously, there were support crew setting up and putting down tents along the way and feeding the hungry runners at the end of each day too, there were those who babysat children so their parents could run, MAF kids who were enthusiastic cheerleaders at dozens of spots at the side of the road along the way, the Bus Mother Ruth Maisel who kept the bus and runners running efficiently and their fantastic bus driver Phil Snell.

Coming 31st out of 73 teams and 3rd in the over 40s category was great, but not the reason they entered.  Their motivation was to raise money for a cause that they believed in, as well as bringing glory to God and raising the profile of MAF in the Mareeba/Cairns region.   They certainly did this and they can’t wait for next year.

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