Story by Katie Machell and photos by Wouter Nagel and Ian Purdey.
On May 11th MAF Madagascar Country Director shared the exciting news that ‘Pilots Ryan Unger and Wouter Nagel are starting the Caravan engine to deliver the very first vaccines to Marolambo. A small box has been loaded onto plane, to make the very first vaccine delivery in Madagascar. More flights followed in the proceeding couple of days, with destinations still being added. The flight has been chartered by UNICEF, but the vaccines have been provided by the government.’
Still new to the programme after moving from South Sudan, Wouter has been doing orientation flights alongside the other programme pilots, to familiarise himself with the terrain and the airstrips. He explains more about the first vaccine flight. ‘We flew 500 doses of vaccines to the community in Maralambo. This journey would take one to two weeks by car (if it’s passable and only with a 4×4 vehicle, not a truck); or a 40-minute MAF flight.’
Two days later the plane was chartered for a second vaccine flight, this time to four different destinations. ‘The partner was UNICEF again,’ explains Pilot Ian Purdey. ‘There were no passengers to accompany the shipment as travel is restricted at the moment between regions due to the Covid outbreak, so we just carried the 320kg of freight. There was a total of 6500 doses delivered (spread across the 4 destinations) of vaccines – enough for 3250 people.
‘There was no difference to procedures for cold chain to our other vaccine flights. These doses need to be stored at between two and eight degrees Centirgrade, and they were shipped in cold boxes. Our flying time was six and a half hours in total, and Wouter joined me as part of his country orientation. It was great to have an extra pair of hands to help make the day run smoothly!’
Over the next few days, two more flights took place, reaching four desitinations, creating an amazing total of 25,600 doses delivered across 5 flying days to 17 destinations.
We are so grateful to be able to help in this time of COVID and to be a part of bringing what communities need, even in the most isolated of communities. We look forward to how God plans to continue to use us in these times.