Flights are often scheduled to deliver much needed vaccines to areas of Madagascar. These are ‘rush’ vaccines which need to get to their destination quickly while they are still in a chilled state, something that is not possible if they were transported by road. Normally the plane is full of vaccines, but for this flight only half of the aircraft’s capacity was being used.
The previous days, two MAF staff had had separate conversations with one of our regular passengers, Jean Claude, who is a keen evangelist and has produced a Malagasy bible. He drives into the bush from Tana to make bibles available to those unable to buy them because it is too expensive or difficult to come into the city. We as MAF have some boxes of bibles, donated to us to sell in the bush (and invest the money into more bibles to sell), but normally the flight is full or we don’t have the time opportunity to go into the villages and distribute them. Because of these barriers we have been neglectful and haven’t remembered to take them when maybe we could have (our minds being focussed on the task of achieving the flight for the customer who has booked it, rather than what other uses the flight could be put too). Having recently spoken with Jean-Claude put the bible ministry at the forefront of Patricks, our Pilot’s mind, and we realised there was space to bring some bibles and time available to sell them in Besalampy.
Speaking to flight ops, they knew of a pastor in Besalmapy who we could contact to advertise that we would come with bibles the following day. In contacting the pastor, it was discovered he was not in town, in fact he was stuck in Mahajanga (the nearest big town) because the boat he was planning to take didn’t leave and he needed to wait for another one. It is not possible to reach Besalampy from Mahajanga by road. Besalampy isn’t a town we fly into that often so being able to use us hadn’t crossed his mind. However hearing there was a possibility of getting home the next day he got a taxi-brousse that evening from Mahajanga to Tana (an 8 hour journey, arriving in Tana at 4am) ready to catch our 7am flight! Certainly God’s hand at work.
For the vaccines, flights were made into Antsalova and Maintirano before Beslampy. Afterwards further vaccines were dropped at Morafenobe and Ambatomainty, in total 400kg of polio vaccines, and posters advertising their availability were distributed around the towns and villages of west Madagascar.
After unloading the vaccines in Besalampy, Patrick went into town by bike with two boxes of bibles. A passenger we picked up in Maintirano who is a GBU student (Groupes Bibliques Universitaries) had gone ahead to tell people the plane had come with bibles so we also sold some from the airfield. People who heard walked over to the aircraft especially to purchase a bible, which are hard to come by in the region, and when they are available they are sold at heavily inflated prices which make them unaffordable for the average family. In total 55 bibles were sold in 90 minutes. Hopefully word will get out and next time they hear the plane arriving in Besalampy, people who couldn’t get one this time will come and have the opportunity next time.