The location of the clinic is not in a village, but takes place just 50 metres or so off the airstrip at a small concrete church building. Before it all begins, Nurse Maria gives a health education and family planning talk to the women waiting outside, and a pastor speaks and prays.
This clinic is the smallest of all the locations that MAF flies to on the Haydom Medical Safari, a life-saving initiative where MAF regularly flies a medical team to several remote villages who otherwise wouldn't have access to healthcare. With only 74 patients here compared to the largest with 559, numbers and needs are relative.
‘What we’re doing here is having a lasting impact on the survival of children by getting vaccines to the people, helping women have safer deliveries.’ Kirstein Combrink, MAF Pilot
A five hour walk
Nurse Neema sits down on a wooden bench inside the church to speak with Rehema, a 36-year-old mother holding her chubby six-month old baby Veronica. She has come to the clinic to have Veronica weighed, and hopes to receive the six-month vaccinations although it’s a few days early
Neema asks Rehema in her own language where her village is located. The answer clearly takes Neema by surprise as she asked again to make sure she understood correctly: a five-hour walk. Rehema left her home at 6:00 am and arrived at the clinic at 11:00 am.
Most of us wouldn’t get in a car and drive for five hours, let alone walk.
Prevention is better than cure
'It’s easy to think there are no big stories here, nothing exciting,' says pilot Kirstein Combrink. 'There are no major disasters or refugee camps that we have to respond to. This kind of work is more difficult to quantify.'
'What we’re doing here,' he continues, 'is a more sustaining work, helping people have a better life, having a lasting impact on the survival of children by getting vaccines out to the people, helping women have safer deliveries.'
Kirstein reflects on the time before the Haydom Safaris and the importance of continuing flights to Endanyawish. ‘There was such a high infant mortality rate. If we draw back and they don’t get vaccines, and there’s a polio outbreak two years from now, is it better for us to respond to a major crisis? It’s prevention at the end of the day. It’s a calling in Christ and there’s extreme value in continuing to do this.”
Most of us wouldn’t get in a car and drive for five hours, let alone walk.Kirstein Combrink, MAF Pilot