With your help the people of West Africa have "a chance, not only to change their own lives and their own destinies, but to change the future of an entire generation".

Friday, August 31, 2012

How hungry are your termites????

As we enter the minor dry season the airfield turns from green to brown, and this year we have lost all of our markers boards to termites, making the runway identification and manoeuvring areas definition less easy to make out.

We used to paint the runway marks - but at $400 per month in paint, we soon stopped that. We tried simple boards, but they lasted only a matter of months. Then we worked on a board with lots of treatments and plastic wraps on areas in contact with the ground - and they lasted a little more than a year, despite some expesive paints and a complex frangible mechanism...

Therefore, in an effort to improve marking visibility and as part of a long term cost-saving exercise, as well as an increase in safety, we have worked on a system of marker boards, moulded in fibreglass with an integrated resin coated wooden base (termites dont eat resin!). They are made ready to be adapted as runway lights should we one day be allowed to fly night VFR!

Here we see Bernard, Mr Solo, Newton, Lydia, Freda (one of the new intake, and Patricia), all pleased with the outputs. The prototypes installed at threshold 19 for a few weeks now, have added a great deal to our approach clarity and improved taxi precision. The next plan is to intstall one every 100m/330' along the runway... We hope to see these installed at other bush strips around the country in the coming years, based on our experiences.

At a materials cost of around $60 per board, excluding moulds, labour and R&D costs, we hope to sell them to interested parties at $100 each or $1000 for a set of 12, the amount needed for a 500m runway (1800'). We realise that, as an item they are not cheap, but as an investment they are vital. Safety is important, and the cost of replacing wooden ones each year is well beyond a joke, we will see a ROI (return on investment) of less than 3 years compared to the old system - and with it an improved solution for a safer flying environment.

We would like to see these markers in place at Kete Krachi and Techiman in the coming months. Should they purchase, it will create work for the girls at the airfield, increase skills and be a win-win all around. If you would like to sponsor marker boards for Kete Krachi or Techiman, please let us know!

Once they are painted (2 part epoxy paint) and installed on the runway we will post a fresh image to tickle your imagination as to when you will fly into Kpong Airfield!!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

In the light of day......

This morning, we can see the blackened swathes and are glad that the winds did not change... the worst of the fire passed within 200m of the fence line, some backburned all the way onto the grass road. Fortunately, our new stone road behind the fuel depot and hangars gave us a lot of confidence. We will probably have to set a fire to clear the wedge of unburt shrublands that remains. Failure to manage this area will only lead to bigger fires in the future. We will wait for a gentle wind from the west and aim to clear these 40 or 50 acres within a week.

Furthermore, we are aware of the need to preventive burn other areas on the airfield - it is better to control when things burn - when we are all awake and aware, than to have a surprise in the middle of the night....

Thanks to the many of you who expressed your concerns. These fires will continue around us for the next few weeks until the next rains arrive in late September/early October...

Flames on our doorstep

I am standing at the fence line watching a fierce bush fire head for the airfield. This is the first time I am relatively calm about this seasonal menace.

Even though we now have mains water to the site, and have installed a series of ' fire points' along the fence line, today the mains is off. Not good.

Fortunately we have 3000 litres of reserve, albeit at low pressure.

However, through a great deal of effort we also have now a cleared area providing a barrier of a minimum 5 m/ 18' and all the areas around buildings on the airfield side are short cropped.

This is the minor dry season, so it is not as fierce as the february fires. The symphony of crackling grasses, exploding branches and seed pods coupled with smoke filled sky splattered with yellow and red glowing is almost beautiful when you are well prepared.

Sadly many will lose their crops and other valuable items in these fires. Our thoughts go out to our neighbours as we watch and manage our site at this time.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

It starts with a good nights sleep

We are not sleeping on the job. We are simply delivering new mattresses for the mini clinic accommodation and girls hostel...

The new girls are amazed that we provide a mattress, and that we do not put more students in a room than there are beds.

Our first task with all the new girls in training is to change the way they think and to develop trust. A good nights sleep is all part of the training!

All of our training facilities and accommodation, as well as the mini clinic, enjoy mosquito netting and indoor plumbing. That may but sounds much, but it its the basis of Positive learning and healthy environment.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Between a Rock and a hard place.....

This week we have come across another disturbing situation. Whist driving through the bush, I came across a chappy we have known for a long time. He was wearing his biggest smile. 'How are you?', I asked through the car window. I am not sure he even heard the question. 'I am going to fix a lady's leg!' he started with exclamation points sounding out between word. 'She fell and has broken here' (pointing to his right thigh). Before I could interject he continued, 'I have bought herbs to fix it - I am going to make it better.' In such a case that probably includes snake parts, roots and leaves. I suggested that 'a trip to the hospital is a better idea.' It was rejected.

Later we discovered that he was charging the poor old lady over $100 for his herbal remedy - and are sure that he promised 'rapid healing' - this is probably more than the hospital would have charged.

This chap KNOWS that topical herbs cannot speed up the healing of a broken bone. We know that over 70% of all broken femurs result in death in this part of the world.

We spoke to a clan member about 'you should take her to the hospital'. The fear remains in the family that a hospital visit will result in amputation.... in reality, the herbal approach may well result in that or worse.

So we find ourselves in a difficult position, once again. We can only 'suggest' and 'encourage', lead by example. We cannot overcome the belief in the 'spirits', the power of the 'herbalist' or 'magic'. At least not in the short term. If we push too hard, we lose all communication and make enemies. If the lady dies, which is not outside the realms of possibility, how should we feel? If the lady's leg heals but in a poor position, perhaps she wont be able to walk properly. The list of challenges here is long.

For the record, we do not have the answer to all the questions. We have to respect peoples choices, but provide them with 'guidance and encouragement'. Of course, for $100 it is easy to see how 'shiny things and promises' can blind people from the 'right things and facts'.

We will pop by the community concerned again to see how it is going later in the week. We will continue to encourage proper treatment. We hope that we are able to encourage a positive outcome for this lady. I really thought that the people concerned in this incident had learned more than this. But then, I guess we see the 'miracle distractions' even in the developed world - after all we have all seen the 'lose weight fast ads' that distract people from a proper diet and exercise... and the 'pill sellers' take more money than a sensible approach would cost.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Miss Lydia, motivated and empowered.... inspiring others

Lydia continues to make great progress. Her night braces are giving a greater angle between her forearm and hand. With this she is gaining greater control in flight in the CH701.

Here she is practicing her circuit work. It is amazing the difference flying has made to her life - the motivational effect, the need to communicate and the essential need to learn to work with her unique geometry (although we still tends to climb when turning right!).

At Oshkosh this year Lydia met a retired 747 lady pilot, barely taller than her,who told Lydia about the number of cushions she needed to use to fly the heavy metal! That gave Lydia more confidence in the use of cushions in the cockpit!

Also at Oshkosh, she enjoyed spending time with Jessica Cox (the no-arm pilot and wonder-motivational-speaker) as well as meeting other disabled pilots boosted her confidence.

To those who supported this life changing trip for Lydia, we extend our heartfelt thanks.

Lydia will be doing her duties in the mini-clinic soon, sharing her story with others who come into our facilities in need of the most simple yet effective health education and wound management that many people around the world simply take for granted.

Lydia is an inspiration to us all, but most of all she inspires the parents of others to take better care of wounds similar to those of her legacy, and to prevent others suffering as she has and will for the rest of her life.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The final touches....

With less than a week to the start of the new girls from the north we are busy finishing as much as we can in the mini clinic. It’s really starting to look like a clinic now that we’ve moved the exam tables and beds that Mr Solo constructed into the rooms. We expect to ‘officially’ open the clinic on October 13th, but will begin using it as early as the week of August 27th. This really is now an essential facility as we increase our activity, our scope and or partnerships.

Just next door, in the same building, is the training centre, equipped with computers and a data-projector, donated through the amazing violinist, Francis Norman, and to be called ‘The Francis Norman Data Centre’ (with a Violin as a symbol). This building also houses a hostel room for up to 6 volunteers and/or community trainees to reside, in relative comfort, within the facility. It really will make a difference, especially once the aircon goes in. The data center will open for classes on September 11th. We may have our first hostel guests in September also.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Painted and ready

Painting is now complete in the mini clinic and training centre. Desks are complete, in place and waiting for chairs and computers... Official opening is 13th October, although this room will start bring used used from next week!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Interview with Audrey Biney....

Audrey has been a local volunteer with mom and us a fantastic support, often chugging away behind the scenes making things happen... Lets find out some more about her...

--How long have you been involved with MoM?

My initial contact with MoM was back in March 2010. We were approached by Jonathan and Patricia in the Accra Mall when they expressed interest in getting Isabella (my daughter, who was then only 2 years old) involved in the upcoming "Fly me day". During our conversation, they both spoke of MoM and I knew immediately I wanted to be involved.

--What is your role within MoM?

My role really is as a health educator and to lend support/assistance in other areas wherever/whenever required (i.e. translating, attending meetings, etc…) More recently though, I’ve been actively participating in the INSCI programme and the Fulani Outreach.

--What was it that drew you to become involved with MoM?

Good question. I relocated to Ghana over 3 years ago from the UK, but even before we had made the decision to come to Ghana I had always said I would love to have the opportunity to do something like this. I really wanted to be able to give back to society where the rewards are not necessarily monetary. I envisaged myself on so many occasions working in rural communities and villages and doing some sort of outreach work. So within me, I was already looking for an opportunity like this and there are so many NGOs out there but I liked the vision of MoM and the people involved.

--What have you enjoyed most about your work with MoM so far?

Definitely the interaction with the communities and seeing the impact that our work has on their lives, not only now but in the future! It is also a very humbling experience for me and it teaches me to not take so much for granted and to be truly thankful to God for what I have and what I have achieved in life so far.

It has also brought me into contact so many wonderful people from all over the world like the volunteers of MoM who have a passion and dedication for what they do.

Do you have any advice for others who would like to contribute to MoM's growth?

I would say “Do it!” It is one of the most amazing and rewarding things you can do with your life and you cannot put a monetary value on the rewards you receive. You could be changing lives in ways you couldn't even imagine. There are many ways to contribute even if you don't have the time to spare to come out as a volunteer...so I would say, please just do something!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New Blood

Last year, Erin Nolan came out from NYPD and supported a trip around Ghana on the hunt for new talent. In that tour we spoke to over 1000 young people. From which 100 were invited to the Fly Me Day, and flew, learning more about aviation, health and engineering. From that day, seven girls were offered two in the workshops for selection for training in health, aviation and engineering. Five arrived and next month four will begin their training.

The four girls on the left of this image, from the left, Beatrice, Freda, Deborah and Kate are all excited about starting a four year programme of learning skills that will enable them to take enhanced health and associated education to the rural dwellers around the Lake Volta. Upon successful completion of their training, they are assured a job, and a release programme to enable them to support Medicine on the Move's outreach to the rural people of Ghana.

Our heartfelt thanks go out to Erin, who made the trip to select these girls possible, and to the many of you who follow and support the training of the young women who power the outreach that changes lives, one flight at a time...

Beatrice, Freda, Deborah and Kate will be sharing the girls hostel with Emmanuella, Juliet and Lydia, and I am sure will be featuring in many posts in the coming months!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mr Solo

Mr Solo, assisted by his grandson, Newton during a 'take your grandson to work' day, and Bernard are working hard on the furniture for the mini clinic.  Installation of furniture begins next week.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Home grown solutions

As we get ready to recomence the bag drops, once children are back in school, we have streamlined our fueling systems. The drum cradle allows single handed unloading of fuel drums ready to pre-filter the 95 RON/91 AKI fuel using a teflon coated water and dirt separation screen ready for use in the mission aircraft.

Friday, August 17, 2012

There is a change is in the wind

The first dust devil of the season came through today, just as we were sorting out the supplies for the new mini clinic. Fortunately, some quick reactions stopped the supplies scattering!

The mini clinic is scheduled to open on the 13th October, and is coming together according to plan.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cold is a relative thing

There is definitely something called climate change - and we are feeling it in the tropics. This weekend we were all wearing jackets - yes, jackets. The temperature remained at or below 27C/80F until around 10:30. At night all the windows are closed, and blankets are being requested. Night time temperatures are dropping below 20C (70F). Remember, most people in the rural areas have no windows to close, just an opening with a makeshift curtain or a piece of wood to block it. Blankets are not a common commodity on the market.

For many our current temperatures may not sound that cold. But here, we shiver and shake at those temperatures. (Normal day time temps are in the 30 - 38C and night time it is rare to see temps much below 23C. ) Climate change may bring the need for heating for some folks, especially the very young and very old. If this trend continues, we envisage a future programme on 'how to keep warm'.

Last night, this large storm passed to the North of us, probably the culprit for the lower temperatures and strong winds.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Building towards the future

People often wonder how wide the vision is at Kpong Airfield.... well, it is wide - and it all has a purpose. Here is the field plan - and you can see the planned future developments - many of which are many years away - but all are part of the bigger picture. Dreams become Visions and Visions become Plans and from the Plans can a reality be grown...

The areas in RED are far away, but EVERYTHING on this map was RED just SEVEN years ago. This month marks seven years from breaking ground - and it is a long way to have come. Seeing how light aviation can seamlessly integrate into a rural health development programme in a sustainable manner and with job creation and training as an integral part.

Thank you to all who embraced the dream, built on the vision, helped with the plans and then the realisation of the plans to this point. Together we can look to the next seven years and know that there are many more challenges ahead.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A New Partnership

Medicine on the Move will be announcing a partnership for its aerial supply of health education materials later this week. We believe that partnerships are key to success. If it takes a village to raise a child, then it clearly takes a wider group to get the important messages out to the villages. Thankfully, we have some wonderful members of our volunteer and support base partnership at MoM, from students, aircraft engineers, pilots, medical researchers, health professionals, farmers, administrators, miners, oil industry folks, construction people, and now by joining hands with a similar minded, Community Focused health orientated, organisation we hope to maximise the effects and to change lives - many more lives - one flight at a time. Watch this space for the up coming news - and you can register for the newsletter (with much more detail) coming next week ONLY to those who have registered at the MoM site ( http://www.medicineonthemove.org/ )

Friday, August 10, 2012

President, RIP

Today, all of us in Ghana are mourning the loss of our President, John Atta Mills. The nation is clad in red and black, the national colours of mourning. The nation is peaceful and we are proud to be amongst the wonderful people of Ghana during this time. Their peaceful management of this event is a credit to the nation and gives us all great hope for a future of growth, health and education for all, as was so desired by the dearly departed and upheld by his successor, President John Mahama. May Ghana continue along its path of peace and development. All activity at the airfield has been suspended for the day as part of the National Recognition for the Father of the Nation.

It's a paper world

This aint your daddies paper plane!!!
Paper plane
Pictured left to right: Patricia  David and Lydia

MoM really has touched lives all over the world.  Some time ago Logan in Australia came up with the idea of having a 'paper kit plane' on our website that would provide some interaction with those who wanted to have their own 'MoM aircraft.  He contacted Christoph from Germany, who was living in China, who set about designing the most amazingly complex aircraft made out of paper.  Then, he initiated contact with David in Wisconsin USA to produce a finished paper model to be presented to us at Oshkosh!

paper world

The Zenith STOL aircraft model, on amphibious floats, is an amazing representation - including every rivet and fuel caps, seatbelts and instruments.    The model is currently sitting on the desk of the head of the Volta Lake Transport Company, reminding us all daily of the importance and uniqueness of float planes and their ability to reach the many people around the 8000km/5000mile coastline lake that is home to some very wonderful people, lacking infrastructural support. 

Download the plans for the plane and own your own Zenith CH 801 Mission plane on floats.

We hope that one day there will be a float plane such as this in Ghana that can be used for health education and associated services around the lake Volta. We also hope that many young Ghanaians will be trained to fly such aircraft and deliver health care - West Africans helping West Africans. WAASPS, the social-entrepreneurship currently makes it aircraft available to MoM at exceptional rates and carries out many flights hand-in-hand with MoM. Furthermore, WAASPS allows it staff to fly missions and give their time for community health education on a volunteer basis. The AvTech Academy (a not for profit vocational/academic training establishment, operated jointly by WAASPS and MoM) is supported by MoM Ghana for the training of young Ghanaians from the rural areas, so that they can carry the important messages of health care back to their own people. This synergy between these three organizations is part of the essential chemistry that has enables MoM to reach people in the way it has so far and will do more and more through an enlarged partnership network in the coming years. If you would like to support this synergy, knowing that around 50% of the funding of our operations comes from WAASPS, and that we support the AvTech Academy to train our future aviation aware health educators, then please click on the Donate button.

We understand that many people prefer the old model of a simple 'charity' - reliant entirely on donations and more in line with Western models of operations, but MoM is not trying to copy that - we are looking towards a sustainable solution, integrated to social entrepreneurship-ism, operating within the business and community development models required for West Africa. We no longer actively seek donations nor incur the costs of making repeated applications for grants, but prefer to welcome individuals who agree with our concepts, and appreciate our results on the ground that are truly changing lives, one flight at a time, to come forward, volunteer and support - with no strings attached. We prefer folks to come and visit and to see on the ground how we use our resources before they make any major contributions to our efforts.

 In the mean time, enjoy making this plane, knowing that West African girls from rural communities are making the real thing - and making a real difference.

Help MoM make a difference 

We understand that many people prefer the old model of a simple 'charity' - relient entirely on donations and more in line with Western models of operations, but MoM is not trying to copy that - we are looking towards a sustainable solution, integrated to social entrepreneurship-ism, operating within the business and community development models required for West Africa. We no longer actively seek donations nor incur the costs of making repeated applicaitons for grants, but prefer to welcome individuals who agree with our concepts, and appreciate our results on the ground that are truely changing lives, one flight at a time, to come forward, volunteer and support - with no strings attached. We prefer folks to come and visit and to see on the ground how we use our resources before they make any major contributions to our efforts.

However, If you still wish to make a monitary donation please use this link, Donate. Should you wish your donation to be used for a specific purpose, send an e-mail to jp@medicineonthemove.org This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with detail about your desires.

Download the plans: 

Complete plans, instructions and more can me found on the MoM website
From all of us at MoM, Thank You

Logan for the idea and follow up efforts,
Christoph for the many painstaking hours of detailed work and creation - including instructions (see his other designs here http://www.hoxity.de/papercraft )
David for spending the estimated 40 hours build time and taking time out of his schedule as a writer and hand delivering the model to Oshkosh. 
It really took our breath away, and that of many others, as we received such an amazing gift.  This world is full of some very special people, and we welcome them into the MoM family!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

You win some you lose some....

ONCE AGAIN the only working mower went into self destruct mode, two bolts decided to shear - and seize. Whilst we were working on that having just completed the servicing of the site Genset, we received two visitors associated with support for the new Mini-Clinic. Seeing first hand the new beds, the new cabinets, tiled floors and general progress, made even more impact when we flew together with a first time visitor over some of the remote villages. We hope to open the mini-clinic officially at the end of September.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Spreading the word

Whist travelling to the USA, Lydia Wetsi, MoM's amazing disabled teenage health educator and student pilot, was offered the opportunity to sit left seat in a Boeing 767. Delta's Captain Mike was brilliant in sharing the larger aviation concepts with a 'smaller aviation person'. Lydia quickly realised that there is little difference between the 767 and the Zenith CH701 that she is learning to fly. Lydia was able to provide some useful health education to people attending Oshkosh 2012, Wisconsin, during her stay. She provided full details to pilots on how to use SODIS (link to the SODIS poster please) to purify river water either for camping or in survival situations. Folks from the USA, Canada and South America listened to every word coming from Lydia's mouth, as she described the simple yet effective water purification system that she has also taught many times in Ghana, and will be repeating many more times in the years to come. Joining hands across the Atlantic has boosted her confidence to speak, sharing health education - the key to a healthier, more productive and more socio-economically sustainable rural populations in West Africa.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Back Home again....

After a hectic 20 days of touring the USA (Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri) it is back to the field and to ensuring that all things are in working order ready for the next set of drops and new girls starting on training. In order to fund all that we do, there is a social entrepreneurship, WAASPS, that organisation provides the jobs for the trainied staff and releases them to work with MoM and AvTech. When we got back the runway was unusable, with a heavily overgrown undershoot. So, within hours of hitting African soil we were all running at top speed to get the facilities back into a safe and usable condition. Thankfully Matthew stepped in and did some amazing work to ensure that within 18 hours of being back there was at least one usable runway.

Just maintaining a usable facility requires dedication and commitment - and I am pleased to say that we have a fantastic team ready to step up to the mark!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Seagull

You may have read the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. If you haven't, then you really have missed out on one hour of the most amazing reading on the planet. The story is one about standing up and being different, doing things that are not 'everyday' for a seagull. It has many analogies to our everyday lives and most people find a personally touching moment or two in reading it. Part of the story is about a seagull called 'Kirk Maynard Seagull', a disabled seagull with damaged wings that learns to fly. For me, and others who know what we do in the bush, the story of 'Kirk Maynard' reminds us of Lydia. In fact, Lydia herself loves the book, given to our library by Onni and Angelika earlier this year.

When reading the book, young Ghanaians struggle to grasp 'what a seagull is', since most of them have never seen one. Therefore, when we stopped in the car park of Walmart in Oshkosh last week and a seagull landed next to the car, the excitement amongst Patricia and Lydia was in-containable. Opening the doors of Clay's van (the Webmaster), cameras in hand, two young women ran across the hot tarmacked surface, dodging trolleys, just to get a closer look and hoping for a picture of this 'rare' bird.

Passers by stared and smiled, wondering if this was a precursor to a TV reality show wondering what on earth was going on. For the 'seagull watchers' it was a moment of pleasure, the coming to life of the images in a book that has touched their lives in many ways.