Mercy Air is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) based in South Africa, founded back in 1991. The NGO provides aviation services to other humanitarian and mission organizations. From its base in White River, Mercy Air operates into South Africa, Mozambique, Eswatini and Lesotho.
“Our fleet consists of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters,” states Corianne ‘t Lam, communications manager for Mercy Air. “Our helicopters fly short local hops from a central hub into small landing sites in remote villages. We use our fixed-wing aircraft to fly larger groups of people and supplies over long distances.”
The fleet includes the Quest Kodiak 100, a Cessna 310-R and three Airbus AS-350 B2 ‘Squirrel’ helicopters. At the moment the NGO air crew consists one full time helicopter pilot and three fixed-wing pilots. Their flying background comprises general aviation and bush flying in Africa, but also airline flying in Europe.
Are you a pilot who wants to expand your flying experience? Contact (here) the NGO for a short or longer mission in South Africa.
Mercy Air has access to a network of specialists in medicine, dentistry, education, agriculture, and community development who often give up their time to serve with the NGO’s mission. The NGO is always on call to assist with medical emergencies and for possible evacuations in case of political unrest.
“We provide sustained aid and lasting relief to victims of natural and human disasters in the Southern African region,” says Corianne. “We operate in a swift and non-bureaucratic manner.”
Working for an NGO gives you the chance to gain experiences that go beyond your normal working environment. But on top of the professional experience, it is mainly the personal stories that will stay with you forever.
Mercy Air regularly partners with Flying for Life, South Africa and Medical Missions, Eswatini to fly ophthalmology teams to remote clinics to perform eye cataract surgeries. Up to 75% of blindness globally is due to cataracts, and this is getting worse because of a global shortage of surgical ophthalmologists. Mr W, a 65-year old man, once supported himself from his vegetable garden and the animals he kept, before he became blind. With dense cataracts in both eyes, he faced an unending waiting list for eye surgery. He lost everything and ended up being homeless for a year. He was rescued by a good Samaritan, who brought him to the hospital.
Mercy Air was flown in with a surgery team. The surgery went well and the milky cataract was replaced with a clear implant. The day after surgery, as the eye patch was removed, thankfulness lit up his face. With his newfound sight, he immediately sprang into action to lead another blind woman to the place where she too could find sight.
Another heartwarming story happened in the remote Zambezi Delta of Mozambique. To get to a hospital takes a 3 day trip by foot and canoe. Mercy Air flies medical teams in and do medical evacuations with the helicopter. “This little 3 year old, Lorinda, was seriously sick with malaria and nearly unconscious,” recalls Joel, who was trained by the Swiss Army before joining Mercy Air in 2015 as helicopter pilot. “We flew her out of the village to the hospital in Marromeu.” After just 48 hours at the hospital with good IV treatment, Lorinda recovered well.
Come Relax, Come Work
In addition to its main activity of flight services, Mercy Air also offers accommodation for those who are looking for peace and quiet. “Many people who are working in difficult circumstances find this a quiet place to reconnect with their families, and a place for spiritual rejuvenation,” says Corianne. “Mercy Air Hospitality offers a number of comfortable self-catering cottages and guest rooms for Christian workers to come rest, relax and restore. We accommodate families, individuals and small groups.”
You find more details about the hospitality on their website (visit here)
Mercy Air offers volunteer opportunities from 1 week to 3 months on its base in White River and in the communities they serve. IT support, building projects, maintenance, medical and dental care, education and photography are just some of the many ways you can support the NGO. Read more (here) about short term volunteering with Mercy Air.
Non-Governmental Organizations are services that work on social and political issues like poverty, humanitarian aid and human rights. They often work closely with governments and institutions, but the vast majority of NGOs are non-profit, independent organizations. Mercy Air is supported through donations, which enables the organization to help the poorest of the poor.
“Funding is always a problem for an organization that charges the absolute minimum for its flying, if anything at all,” explains Corianne. “We are incredibly grateful to donors from all over the world who kindly support us!”
Organizations that donate to Mercy Air include The ISTAT Foundation, Wings of Hope and Airbus Helicopters. CrewLounge AERO supports the NGO on its way to digitization of flight documents and paperless cockpit. “As the new IT manager of the NGO, it is my job to bring the organization into the 21th century,” says David Schumacher, an Airbus 320 pilot who recently joined Mercy Air. “I’m very grateful that CrewLounge is helping us in our process of digitization.”
If you would like to contribute yourself to their mission, you can donate directly (start here) to Mercy Air. Watch the heartwarming promo video about Wings of Love to People in Need:
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