Three MoM volunteers have spent the week at Oshkosh, not fund raising, but raising awareness, sharing with the supporting organisations of the operations at Kpong, and meeting with those who have followed our progress. This trip and all the practical arrangements and scheduling was only made possible by the kind support of several of you reading this, and we thank you all. Lydia Wetsi - the young woman of small stature and a big story came too, after long trail of paperwork for passport and visa! 'Ringmaster and web-lord', Clay made sure we were all where we were meant to be! Lydia was met by many people who commented on how her story inspired them - an a amazing knock on effect of the operations in Ghana. One gentleman with an incurable disease came specially to have his picture taken with Lydia 'You are such an inspiration to me' he said, adding 'I have read all about you and watched the videos with you in - I am very proud of you!' It is wonderful for Lydia to pay back some inspiration to those in the developed world who have been instrumental in her positive story. Such feedback is also a massive boost to her development, and a vote of confidence in the approach and outcomes of our operations. We all loved meeting those who came up and told us 'I read about you!'.... it was very special.
Once again, we were based at the Zenith Booth, the company who provides the 'plans and kit parts' of the aircraf that we build and use.
Whilst at Oshkosh Lydia met with her 'heroine', Jessica Cox, the only certified pilot without arms in the world, and if that were not enough, they were together with the amazing Melissa and Rex Pemberton, regulars at Kpong Airfield, role models, mentors and supportive advocates of the outreach and training programmes that we are involved in.
During a walk between two appointments, Lydia had the opportunity to board a C17 Globemaster and chat with medical aviation experts who operate at the top end of the scale in the cavernous belly of the disaster theatre aircraft - it provided an inspiration to all of as toeards the long-term aim of a flying ambulance, at some point in the future...
During the Able Flight awards, a special programme for disabled pilots in the USA that we attended, the world famous Tuskegee Airmen representative spotted the smile and attentiveness of this young african aviator with a desire to share health education to her people, and chased after her to present a Tuskegee Airmen (famous for the Red Tails in WWII) T shirt. These pilots struggled against the odds, and we shared the commonalities of challenge in developmental aviation and the development of the 'red tails'.
To top it all off, in this week of being amazed at what aviation can do in so many realms, we all met with Karlene Petit, author of the novel 'Flight for Control', which has a passing mention of MoM in the story line. That and some great interviews with AOPA and the EAA, left us all exhausted.
One thing that became clear to all of us on this trip is that 'raising awareness' is more important than we ever realised. If we missed you, we are sorry. If we met for the first time, it was a pleasure to get to know you. If we met up again, we were happy to enjoy the 'family reunion'. All of you are special, and we look forward to welcoming you to Kpong Airfeld, receiving a mail from you, or simply knowing that you are out there, reading about us, and supporting us quietly as we strive to change 'Lives, one flight at a time....'
On behalf of the whole team, THANK YOU!