Inspired by Betty Londergan's What Gives 365 and the Bible (not necessarily in that order!), I'm giving away $250 a week in 2011.

This is where I'm recording that journey, and I hope you'll come along for the ride.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

An Hour of Flight Time in Eastern Africa

(Late again. Another too-busy Friday! The last of the boxes will be unpacked today at last. Back into routine on Tuesday.)

When I started this blog project, my intention was not to repeat any donations. I didn't think that part of the commitment would be too hard, given how many needs and support-worthy initiatives there are out there. This week though, I was struggling with it. It's international week, and I'm finding it difficult to think about any overseas needs ranking higher on my current priority list than the famine in the Horn of Africa.

The scale of the need is massive. God-sized for sure. Yet the responses required are both big and small. I heard this week, for example, about a new dimension of a CARE program addressing the problem that the food rations being provided were too heavy for women to carry the 3 km or so back to their plots in the enormous refugee camps, to the point that they were giving away some of their newly acquired food to pay local wagon drivers to transport it for them. It costs them the equivalent of $1.10 in cash, but they simply don't have it. $1.10!

So I'm finessing the rule a bit. This week, a second donation is going towards the Eastern African famine, but I'm directing it through a different organization. I'm purchasing an hour of flight time from Mission Aviation Fellowship.

MAF describes itself this way: "Mission Aviation Fellowship is a worldwide team of specialists, meeting the transportation and communications needs of overseas missions and relief and development organizations serving those living in the poorest and most remote parts of the world." They maintain 135 aircraft, flying into some 2,500 airstrips in more than 30 countries. And now, they are bringing planes from as far away as South Africa to help aid agencies respond to the food crisis in Eastern Africa.

I've had a few brief points of contact with MAF over the years. I've flown in one of their planes in Africa, onto an airstrip that was having its grass cut by machete even as we landed. A friend recently took an MAF flight in northern Manitoba. Another friend works for MAF locally here. And this coming week, through a rather roundabout MAF/church connection, a young Swiss woman is arriving to stay with us for six months.

So I hope I'm not cheating too badly. As we welcome Jenny into our home, and stock up on food for school lunches, I'm reminded with horror of those moms who don't know where their children's next meal is coming from. And I can feel the excitement of watching a plane arrive ("Da plane! Da plane!"). Logistics are a big part of the challenge in humanitarian emergencies -- I'm thankful for organizations like MAF that help things run a little smoother.

PS -- Watch for an update later this week on previous posts. We've been sent some great comments, photos and status reports...

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