Six Clinics, Six Villages, Six Days

By Rachel Greco

Many people living in Cameroon’s remote villages receive medical care only when medical professionals arrange for a visit. Thankfully, a Baptist hospital sends staff out to these villages every few weeks. Still, getting out to these areas can be tricky, especially when the roads become slippery in the rainy season or full of potholes. 

That is when they turn to our partner, SIL Cameroon Aviation, for help. 

The administrator of the Baptist Hospital in Banyo, Jonathan, has known Mark Spangler, a JAARS-trained helicopter pilot in Cameroon, for about nine years. SIL Cameroon has often flown health professionals to set up clinics in villages for the hospital in Banso, where Jonathan used to work. 

Mark with some of the medical staff

When Jonathan became the administrator of the Banyo hospital, he asked the SIL Cameroon Aviation team if they could do flights out of Banyo in order to reach a new area with God’s love. The team longed to support their Cameroonian brothers and sisters in Christ this way, but several challenges struck at once: COVID-19 and new governmental regulations that made it impossible to charge for flights. Due to these developments, they couldn’t continue to operate the helicopter in this area. 

Thankfully, people like you who give to JAARS Aviation Solutions have enabled JAARS to provide flight subsidies to our partner. With that support SIL Cameroon Aviation began flying again. They soon reached out to Jonathan and said, “We’ve got some support now, and we really want to make these [flights] happen.” 

The helicopter in Banyo

So Mark helped Banyo’s medical team to offer six clinics in six villages in about six days. For each clinic, Mark flew four medical personnel—a doctor, eye technician, pharmacy technician, and a community health nurse—and about 100 pounds of medications to the village. In the evening, Mark would fly the staff back to Banyo, and the next morning they would start the process all over again for another village. 

The airstrip to the Baptist Hospital in Banyo

According to Mark, “There are many internally displaced people in the Banyo area due to ongoing crises, so this was a HUGE encouragement to many people in this area.”   

Mark couldn’t even find one of the villages, a town called Kwi Labare, on a map. Thankfully he met a man in a different village who was a teacher in Kwi Labare. After the man gave him a different name for the village, Mark was able to find the village on Google under this different name. 

The medical staff was exceedingly grateful for the helicopter. Conducting these clinics without Mark’s help would have taken about 12 weeks instead of one. They would have been able to plan only one clinic about every other week. According to Jonathan, “These trips [with] the helicopter to all these communities have been very good. The staff have been happy, and the communities are very happy.” 

And, as Mark said, “They wouldn’t have happened without JAARS support.” Thank you

At the village of Tibati, it was Mark’s turn to be encouraged. The clinic there was very short- staffed, so the medical team flown in by Mark brought a few more people for the day, including a rare eye specialist. At about 3:30, Brandon, the chief pilot for SIL Cameroon, called Mark and told him storm clouds were building—they needed to leave soon, or they would get stuck. 

Mark let the staff know, and they all tried to finish up what they were doing. Then at 4:30 when they were getting ready to leave, about eight more patients came to see the eye specialist. The staff decided to stay and finish treating all the patients, who otherwise wouldn’t get that care for four to six weeks. “I was impressed with that kind of sacrifice they were willing to make,” Mark said. “They didn’t know where they were going to sleep, but they were perfectly happy to stay for all those patients. That was really encouraging to me.” 

Thank you for helping the people in Cameroon receive medical care and have opportunities to hear the gospel. 

Giving vitamins to children at one of the villages

To enable flights like these to continue, consider giving to Aviation Solutions