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".

Monday, December 31, 2012

Fire..... An ever present danger....

An unexpected bush fire is keeping us all rather busy.   Keeping the fuel depot cool is priority.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Harmatten brings dust and more......

Harmattan cloaks us, and flights are stopped for the first time this season. This pushes us more into the offices to clear up the paperwork for the year and the design areas as we work on the new engineering challenges for 2013. The dust is everywhere and people are falling sick with sore throats and 'Apollo Eye' a sort of conjunctivitis that runs rampant at this time of year. This is also the Meningitis season, especially in the Northern parts of the country.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Bigger and better drop system...

Work on the new drop system its underway in earnest.  As part of our push into 2013, we are looking at a completly new drop system and with it, a much larger opening in the bottom of the passenger floor.... First trial of this new system are expected in February, and it will be the basis of the Afram Plains outreach in second quarter 2013.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

It's not tea leaves but it can predict the future....

Oil filter cutting and interior inspection is done after every service. Looking inside the filter, after 50 hours of oil cascading through it, allows us to see if any metal fragments or other debris is building up - it is an early warning system. If only we could pass on the understanding to the communities of the importance of ensuring that microbial, parasites and other nasties are removed from drinking water before consumption!

In 2013 we plan a major campaign in the Afram Plains related to a variety of behavioural issues...

Do you ever wonder what your oil filter is catching in your car? Hmmmm, you probably take it for granted - much as the people in the rural communities fail to consider the challenges they raise through poor potable water and sanitation control methods....

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Termites.....Lessons to learn???

Termites are a challenge wherever they exist in the world - they are incredibly organised creatures that can consume wood faster than Mr Solo (and that takes some doing!)

Here we see the effect of termites on a panel of wood that fell to the ground, and was there for about three days... If only we could all be so organised as to take advantage of an opportunity and to make such 'short work of consuming it'!

The key thing with Termites is that they work as a team - much like our Medicine on the Move family - let us work even better in 2013 as we seek out the opportunities and, together, work towards making an impact in a sustainable manner.

Friday, December 21, 2012

When Mavis is away ...

When Mavis is off, catering forcibly becomes a time limited activity. Noodles and eggs are not only quick, easy and cost effective, but they are both available locally!

With the girls on break, Patricia and Jonathan have to take on extra roles. It is also a time when they miss the hustle and bustle of a busy airfield people wise. All the same, it its good to have a change of schedule...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tomorrows forecast... your guess is as good as mine?????

It rained yesterday. The Harmattan is in today... Visibility dropping fast. We never mow in December, rain in December is rare.

Today we are mowing for the third time this month...unbelievable!

The daily effort to keep the site operational seems to be increasing, especially as the abnormal climatic conditions appear to be lasting....'Abnormal' and ' unpredictable' are the new normal, so we had better get used to it!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Belle of the ball...

The girls at Kpong love the new John Deere sit and ride mower, and have taken the responsibility for mowing to heart. Here they wanted to pose with the new 'worker' at the airfield at the end of year party. The love for the machines, the care for the machines, the desire to use the machines as they are meant to be used and to maintain them, is key to the overall success of all that we do. These girls are empowered and they are taking that empowerment back to their communities as the travel home for the end of year festivities...

When did you last see young people (boys or girls) taking so much care of a machine and realising the real use - the use to establish, maintain and make sustainable, facilities that change lives, one flight at a time!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Please Moo-ve on....

Not all of our days are good days. After all of the work to repair the fence, this afternoon a cattle herder, seeking greener grass for his cows, broke down the fence to the safety area and threatened one of our staff. It is a long time since we had issues like this, but the post election sentiments are raising the stakes in some parts of the country. Including, it seems, our airfield and the ability to take down our fences at will.

Our staff member called us and we responded rapidly with the truck. We wanted to talk to the cattle herder, but he was already clear of the fence line and refused to come back to 'discuss' the situation. We will be increasing our security patrols, and alerting the Police to the situation. There is a growing challenge of 'free range' cattle herding in the area, and much as we respect their rights to roam, they must also respect fence lines that are in place to ensure safety for our aircraft as well as to prevent people putting themselves in danger.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The local Cobbler

The local cobbler sells second hand shoes and also repairs any shoe using the available resources.... Glue, thread, nails and some leather strips..

The ingenuity of the local people working from 9 sq feet of roadside shop always amazes me...

Friday, December 14, 2012

Meet Winnie....

Winnie, an occasional volunteer from Tema is helping clean up some wheelchairs, walking sticks and crutches ready for distribution next week.

We will be getting a much as possible directly to those in need, and the balance will go out via the hospital.

Many of those in need do not attend the hospitals, thus the more time consuming distribution method.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Field maintenance.. sometimes it's a balancing act...

With a constant need to maintain a secure site, the 4km of fencing needs constant checking. Lydia its sending fresh supplies to the fencing crew- water, binding wire and a chunky hammer, which will remain perfectly balanced as she walks the 2 km track to where the supplies are needed...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Travel... the Ghanaian way ....

Four of the young people supported at the AvTech Academy are from Kete Krachi, a strategic location in the Volta Basin, and one that is not easy to get to. Krachi, as it is referred to, is about 14+ hours drive from Kpong, or less than 2 hours in any of our aircraft - or about 13 hours on the ferry (yes it is a bit faster now!). Fortunately, the Volta Lake Transport Company help to support these girls and have provided transport solutions on the lake ferry.

The Yapei Queen Ferry took them Northwards a little over a week ago, to speak in the schools and check the condition of the runway in Krachi, as part of their placement duties. Getting Krachi airfield open is key to future MoM outreach activities in the isolated communities around the lake itself. Yesterday they reported for the ferry, only to wait till the early hours of this morning for it to dock, due to unexpected delays. They boarded and slept.

When they woke up, expecting to be nearly back to Akosombo, they found that they were still in Krachi! Such delays are not unusual, and in bright spirits the ferry has now started its 200km southwards journey - and will dock around midnight tonight. In order to avoid travelling in the night, the girls will then remain in the security of their cabin till dawn, whereupon we will collect them for the 30 minute drive back to Kpong. The good news is that the four girls are all in great spirits and enjoying the journey, planing to give their report on Krachi and to completing the balance of their placement time at Kpong in the coming days...

These challenges are indicative of the day to day challenges the Volta Lake dwellers deal with. A great deal of investment is planned for the coming years to improve the infrastructural capital of the lake areas, and we are busy preparing solutions towards the much needed health education necessary for the people around the lake to be able to participate in the potential socio-economic opportunities that they will be presented with. Training these girls from the heartlands of the Volta Basin is a part of a long term strategy that will certainly change many lives, one flight at a time, sustainably.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

These boots were made for ...working....

Thanks go to Michael in Germany for his fund raising and donation of support to purchase new safety boots for the young women in training at Kpong.

It is wonderful to have such support from all over the world and it makes our jobs such a pleasure, changing lives one flight, and one pair of boots at a time.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Getting ready for 2013

Now that the national elections are over, and declared, life begins to return to normal.

Later this week we will release our year end news letter, so if you are not registered for it do so now at ........http://www.medicineonthemove.org/..... once on the page *scroll down *

Ghana has, once again, demonstrated its peace loving stance and the atmosphere in the country is predominantly positive and inclusive. We are proud of the people of Ghana, their clear demonstration of tolerance and a desire for development.

Meanwhile, the harmattan has started to lay the grey blanket of dust in the sky and with it we will be focused on workshop activities ready for our major drop campaign in March/April 2013.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Big rocks and small planes.......

Maintaining runways and manouvering areas is a constant challenge. As part if their placement duties Emmanuella and Lydia are working to remove a large stone that has emerged near the apron.

The stone is squeezed out by the contraction and expansion of the Akuse Vale Clay, a unique soil in this area. It may take a day or two to remove but it us satisfying work that increases our pride in the airfield.

Finally everybody got involved as the stone resisted efforts...it will learn that resistance is futile!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Election day.....

Today, the 7th December 2012, Ghana goes to the Polls. The General Election has the whole country focused on one word 'PEACE'.

Today is a national holiday, and we will not operate the airfield. The gate is closed. All of the staff are off, free to stand in the queue to vote. Only those resident on the airfield are present, and we will provide the security and oversight of the facilities for the day.

Those who live on site and are elligible to vote left at 05:40 this morning, heading to the nearest polling station - only to find over 1,000 people already in the queue.

Footballers, Pastors, Imman and Celebrities have all made their calls for peace. The temperature in the country is outstanding - and the tolerance of others appears to be at an all time high. As the day progresses, we may see some hot spots, but we are hopeful for a peaceful election and that the Electoral Commission will, as in the past, do its duties and the results, which reflect the will of the people, be accepted by all.

Whatever the outcomes, MoM is here for the rural people of Ghana, and looks forward to being able to return to our airborne activities that change lives, one flight at a time for many years to come.

To give you an idea of the commitment to peace that exists at all levels, last night, the President issued the following speech:


Good Evening, Fellow Ghanaians

Over the past twenty years, Ghana’s democracy has become a beacon of hope for the entire African continent and in the process, drawn useful lessons for the rest of the world.

Tomorrow, for the sixth time in our fourth Republican journey, eligible voters will step out to deepen Ghana’s democracy by choosing our leaders through free, fair and peaceful elections.

On such a historic occasion, it is worth reminding ourselves that whatever our political differences are, Ghana’s stable institutions, democratic culture and the fortitude of its people have at each election, collectively risen to the occasion and made us proud as a nation.

Fellow Ghanaians, an election is a contest between competing policy visions and must never set families, ethnic groups and religions against one another.

Out of this contest of ideas shall emerge a President and leader whose character embodies and reflects our collective aspirations as a nation towards peace, unity and accelerated socio-economic development.

In all this, let us remember that Ghana is bigger and more important than any of us. The surest way to sustain and enhance our enviable image is to go to the polls tomorrow in an atmosphere of peace.

All registered voters are also encouraged to be an active part of the decision making process by exercising their franchise.

I further urge all of you, particularly my dear youth, to be law abiding and do nothing to obstruct the functions of lawfully mandated state institutions and bodies, that are all currently poised to discharge their duties professionally.

As President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, I have done what is necessary through our very capable Security Services to achieve this noble goal of national Peace and Security; before, during and after the polls.

Let us all play our individual and collective roles to make Ghana the winner again tomorrow.

Indeed, I have every confidence that another significant positive milestone will be chalked.

We thank the Almighty God for the favour he has bestowed on us already as a nation, and further pray that he will see us through the election peacefully.

God bless our homeland Ghana and make our nation great and strong.

Thank you.

It only takes a trip to the market to remind us why Healthcare education is important.

Today we made a trip to the market. An opportunity to remind ourselves of the basic conditions of even those in medium sized towns and a reminder of the day we first met Lydia.

The strong smell of urine alternates with raw food smells, making for a challenging time of when to take a deep breath!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Field is quiet today......

Emmanuella and Lydia are the only Av Tech students at the airfield this week, since the others have travelled to their home towns for the election on Friday.

It is nice to have a smaller family for a change and a chance for some more relaxed moments. It was these two who were the catalyst for many of the developments at the airfield, and they are still as committed as ever to be role models and agents of change for the rural people of Ghana.

Without the willing and dedicated inputs from these young people much of our current success would not have happened.

Take a look over some older posts with these two in and enjoy the positive differences that can be seen in them today. Then realise that you are a part of that development. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Learning to drive while cutting the grass

Learning to drive whilst cutting the grass on the apron has many challenges, and for Lydia this is a moment of great joy.

After a morning of cleaning and preparing the machine, work has begun.

learning to cut in a straight line will be a bonus!

Emmanuella finally managed to get Lydia to yield the seat for her to also gain experience on this new tool.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A new Green Machine on the field....

Skill building with a purpose. Thanks to a very generous donation from a friend of our operations, we were able to obtain a small John Deere mower at an excellent price by local standards (thank you AgriMat).

This little mower can mow the r runways and manouvering areas in around 20 hours, and will take some load off of the tired tractor... More than that, it will be used as the intro to driving for the girls, since they must look after it and operate it.

As part of that ownership, Emmanuella was entrusted with the cash, and supported by Lydia for the transaction. Much can be learned from a few simple adjustments to the perceptions of a simple, daily, necessary task, just with a bit of thought.

Tomorrow the girls will' enter to service' the new tool at the airfield.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

World Aids Day

1st December is World Aids Day. Fortunately, world wide awareness and treatments are on the increase. Sadly, in many parts of the world HIV/AIDS continues to ruin lives.

Kpong Airfield lies just a few kilometres from the reported highest levels of the disease in Ghana.

Clearly, changing behaviour is key to reducing infections. We continue to fly regularly near schools and villages, waving to the young and not so young alike, working to change lives and perceptions on every flight we make.

We are told that the young women in these communities are inspired when they see our aircraft, built by african girls, flying overhead, and that it is changing perceptions, and behaviours.

Next year, after the harmattan, we are working towards a health education drop related directly to HIV/AIDS, and to find a monitoring process to establish the levels of behavioural change that our air drops are having.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Clinic pays off again....

Unexpectedly, I needed the clinic today. Each week we have at least one need for the clinic just from our own visitors and crew. Today, unexpectedly, I became the most serious trauma case to date.

Lele pulled up with the tractor complaining about the mower. So, we got the mower off and the blades were really blunt. So we decided to remove and sharpen them. Seeing that they were so blunt that they were worn as smooth as a bald man's head, I took hold of the blade and applied the socket set. What I had not seen was that the blade had shattered on the other side and was sharper than a razor blade. The slice into my left palm was deep, and the pain shot up my arm.

With Lele and two of the new students watching the blood spurted, and started to pour. I immediately applied direct pressure and called for the vehicle to take me to the MoM Helen Himsworth Mini-Clinic on the other side of the airfield.

The option to got the nearest hospital, and taking a four to six hour round trip ran through my mind. However, Patricia opened the clinic and as I released the hand pressure over the sink - the blood ran thick, deep red and in rivers. It was probably the second worst cut I have ever had. In an ideal world I would reach for a suture, but we do not have sutures in stock yet. We only have the 3M brand self adhesive butterfly type stitches With the hand cleaned and the flap of skin and tissue looking like a fresh baby butterfly steak, it was time to try to get it all together. The first two butterfly stitches simply washed off as the blood oozed under their adhesive. A bit more alcohol to clean the skin and six more stitches applied quickly and the skin looked like it would hold.

Fortunately, we also have some op-site in stock, not only would it hold it all together, but also provide a sterile environment to the wound site - especially since the TV crew from ZDF Germany had just arrived too, and those blades needed sharpened still... and the show must go on! Two pain killers, a clean bandage over the hand and some tongue depressor splints to prevent the hand flexing... and the rest of the day ran as normal (but the ZDF film shows me with a big white bandage on my left hand!)

The availability of appropriate supplies, in a clean environment without the time delay, and associated risks, of getting to the nearest hospital, seems to have yielded a positive result once again.

The best moment came as I returned to the workshop and Deborah came up to me and stated 'You should have worn gloves - you need to remember your appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)! At least we provide practical training and real life incidents (but wish to avoid any more personal injuries!) and for a student from the village to have the confidence to tell me that I did it wrong, after less than three months, is amazing!

It is clear that the mini-clinic is going to be have a massive impact next year, as Marcel, and others, come out and provide the extra training to ensure that it provides a service to those in need in an even more timely and efficient manner.

Thank you to all who have helped get the clinic ready - I personally appreciate it today!