We left Nampula early in the morning after confirming good weather conditions at our destination via internet phonecall with a conservation worker in the reserve (what a luxury!) and then flew the two hours north to Erevuka, which is located in the heart of the Niassa Reserve. Our team of Christian Mozambicans: doctor, nurse and healthcare worker, were met by a large portion of the village including elders, conservation scouts and many women and children. After greetings, we took to the trail walking the five minutes in to the clinic. The medical team worked there with the local nurse to see a group of villagers with a variety of ailments that included a minor hand injury, sick children with malaria and prenatal checkups. Then a second group arrived who were brought in from a neighboring village. The healthcare worker met with a group of volunteers in the village school to continue community service training with them. This training is done in Portuguese and then translated into the local language for the nonportuguese speakers. A big goal to this project is to come alongside the local medical workers and facilities they do have, and not to take over or replace what is already there. The nurse is doing a good job with what is available, but, frankly, there are very stark conditions. The little clinic has a solar panel to power a tiny refrigerator for some medications, but I did not see a single lightbulb.
We drew a colorful crowd!
The clinic in Erevuka.
Over lunch we spoke with the village leader and nurse about several hernia patients, some of whom will require surgeries in Nampula. It was inspiring to see the brainstorming and problem solving at work to coordinate this at a future date. The patients will need transport (from MAF) as well as lodging, a caregiver at the hospital and during recovery in Nampula, food, etc. and it is a complicated process to gather all that together.
Before departing many of the villagers and staff requested photos with our team and the airplane. Then we hopped 15 minutes over to the conservancy camp on the Lugenda River for dinner and the overnight (in really nice tents with attached waterfall showers built for tourists– we aren’t always so spoiled!)
Home Sweet Home for the night
Not a bad place for your quiet time reflections
Classic Niassa Airstrip Visitors... Impalas
Not a bad view for AAL to fall asleep to...
Another early morning saw us well-fed and off to Gomba, a village on the northern border of Mozambique, snuggled up against the Rovuma River with beautiful views of Tanzania for a backdrop. While the medical team went off to meet their patients, I stayed on the airstrip with a large group of curious and friendly bystanders. My favorite time is often spent with the village children, showing them the airplane. Since I was free until our departure I had a pleasant time giving every child an opportunity to sit in the plane and get a pilot’s view. Some kids jumped in full of spunk and laughter, others climbed in for their turn literally trembling with fear (so brave) and still others were so little that I lifted them in where they were dwarfed by our small Cessna. Everyone was dripping sweat in the hot sun so no one chose to stay too long in the airplane (aka winged oven) and when all the kids and a few adults had taken a turn, a young girl took me over to the clinic to await our departure. I spent time “talking” with a couple ladies, one of whom had a baby with her. It always amazes me what comradery mothers can communicate amongst themselves when speaking different languages!
Gomba, by air
The grass was too long on one side of the runway so I had to find recruits for a quick trim...
Mozambique - Tanzania border - these particular mountains are in Tanzania
When the medical team wrapped up we walked back to the airstrip with a large escort of patients and villagers who waved us off as we began our uneventful, 2.5 hour flight home to Nampula that afternoon.
A meeting of the Rovuma and Lugenda Rivers
As this medical program progresses (it’s still in infancy) our desire is to forge strong relationships with these villagers, to aid them in building up the healthcare in their communities and to demonstrate the love of Christ to them.