Never Too Late

MAF pilot Jarkko Korhonen served in Tanzania with his family for seven years before moving back to Finland in July 2020. In January he returned to the MAF base in Arusha to give support to the programme as a relief pilot…

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Story by Katie Machell, Photos by Jarkko Korhonen

MAF pilot Jarkko Korhonen served in Tanzania with his family for seven years before moving back to Finland in July 2020. In January he returned to the MAF base in Arusha to give support to the programme as a relief pilot, helping with the regular medical safaris which form the mainstay of MAF Tanzania’s ministry.

‘Our move to Finland was planned before Covid anyway, but it turned out to be a good time to go,’ he says. ‘It wasn’t too much of a transition: the kids are doing fine, and Pirita has started full-time work in an emergency response centre. I’ve been working with MAF Finland doing fundraising, marketing, and recruitment. But I do miss the flying, so it is good to be back here to fly.’

After renewing his base check at the MAF training base in Uganda, Jarkko arrived in Tanzania in early January and immediately got to work fulfilling the team’s commitments to carry healthcare staff and resources to remote areas of the country.  He was relieved that the month went well; there were no technical issues with the plane or other problems to overcome. A report from MAF Finland gives some insight into what happens on the medical safaris:

‘Jarkko flew a nursing team from Haydom Lutheran Hospital to the remote village of Buger, enabling hundreds of children and mothers to receive clinic check-ups and vital vaccinations. Due to the pandemic an airtight screen has been fitted to the plane to isolate the cockpit from the cabin, and during the flight the pilot and the passengers wore masks.

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‘Members of the health care team carried out check-ups and vaccinations for a total of 333 children, increasing protection from dangerous diseases such against tetanus, TB, hepatitis B, polio and many others which threaten their survival beyond childhood. In addition to this, a total of 17 expectant mothers also received antenatal checks.

‘On another leg of the trip, in Yaida village, one of the mothers arrived at the clinic too late and was afraid that her baby would miss getting vaccinated. The medical team had already packed up and come to the airstrip to board the aircraft, and Jarkko was preparing to take off. But the mother was determined not to miss the opportunity and hurried with her baby right up to the plane. The nursing team agreed to give the vaccination and so it was done then and there, right under the aircraft wing.’

It is a privilege for MAF to support primary health care in this way in Tanzania, and be part of the process of bringing help, hope and healing to isolated people.

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