Report by Anna Cuthel
Ask any group of boys anywhere in the world what they want to be, and chances are there’ll be a few of them will say they want to be pilots. The I Afrika boys are no exception!
“Life in Kenya for a street boy is typically dirty, violent and short”, says I Afrika’s Director, Peter Nduati. This small, grass-roots organisation was established in 2008 to care for orphaned and vulnerable street children after Kenya’s tragic post-election violence. In 2009 I joined the team as Board Chairperson for I Afrika. Recently identified by the Kenyan government as an exemplary model, I Afrika does great work both with kids still on Kenya’s streets, and with the 40 boys who have left the streets and live in the home.
After six and a half years in Kenya, my husband, MAF pilot Ryan Cuthel, and I, together with our son Luka, felt God was calling us back home to Australia. As a farewell gift to the boys, and as a fitting and celebratory last flight with MAF, Ryan took all 40 boys on a flight up and over Nairobi in the Cessna Caravan.
Ryan’s circuits took the boys, their teachers, and Luka and I up over the animals grazing in Nairobi National Park, past the wealthy houses in the suburb of Karen, and came into land looking out over the massive Kibera slum, a place many of the children once called home.
Those waiting on the ground, plane-spotting from the hangar doors, were given talks by MAF’s Kenyan staff as to the many and varied types of jobs in the aviation industry. Perhaps MAF-Kenya’s next generation of engineers and ops staff will come from this pool!
For most of these boys, this flight will be the first and last time they set foot on an aeroplane. The chance to take them up was a huge blessing to them and to Ryan and I, who have cherished our time with them over the years. I Afrika’s Director reported that for the boys, the experience was “unbelievable and exciting, giving them the knowledge that even for a boy from the street, nothing is impossible with God. Each went home that day filled with pride!”
This flight was a delightful way to end Ryan’s service in MAF Kenya, and my involvement as I Afrika’s Chairperson. We’re thankful to MAF and to God for the opportunity to make 40 dreams come true!
Well, 6 1/2 years, 3,100 mission flying hours, thousands of clubfeet healed, 45 former street boys re-homed and one cute little son later, we are back on Australian soil. Our years in Kenya and South Sudan have been an incredible time, a time of growing, learning, mourning and rejoicing—years of incredible adventures, friendships and experience. We left with the blessing of MAF Kenya and I Afrika, both organisations throwing wonderful farewell parties and leaving us with very kind words and a permanent welcome back.
Though many tears have been shed over the last few months, we leave Kenya in the sure knowledge we’ll visit again (God willing), and with the comfort of friendships and experiences which cannot be erased.
We are now back in the Redlands, living with Anna’s parents while Ryan gets his Australian license current again and looks for work. We hope to stay in Brisbane but are trusting God’s plan for wherever we may end up as we make this transition.
Mission Aviation Fellowship
Castle Hill Avenue, FOLKESTONE, CT20 2TN UK, Tel: 0845 850 9505
Registered Charity Number 1064598 (England & Wales) and SC039107 (Scotland)