COVID-19 Strikes Again
As a JAARS pilot, I’m serving with an aviation team assigned to Asas de Socorro here in Brazil.* Most of the time we fly Bible translators and other missionaries to the remote villages where they work, or we transport local church leaders to training workshops. But recently, a COVID-19 emergency presented our team with a special challenge.
A couple of months ago it seemed as though Brazil had turned a corner regarding COVID-19. Unfortunately, Brazil was then struck by a second wave that has turned out to be much worse than the first. Goiás, our state, was on lockdown for most of March, with all nonessential businesses, including our flight department, shut tight as infection rates and death rates continued to break records.
It actually started to worsen in northern Brazil at the end of last year as a new variant of the virus began ravaging the cities along the Amazon River and its tributaries. It was so bad that the hospitals in the region ran out of medical oxygen. Patients were dying because they lacked this very basic, but critical, care component. Along with many other people, Asas stepped in to help through the use of our aircraft and pilots.
In February, I spent a week in this region in our Cessna 210 delivering much needed oxygen cylinders to those difficult-to-reach communities. The communities can be reached by boat, but delivery would have taken days, even a week. The speed of our flights, typically just a few hours, was an immense help in this emergency situation.
For us, it was hard work. Each one of the cylinders weighed 165 pounds and had to be loaded by hand into the airplane. But, in the end, we replenished supplies for four different cities.
I am thankful for the part I got to play in providing this lifesaving equipment and how aviation made it possible to reach these communities in a timely way.
* Jake and two other JAARS pilots serve with Asas de Socorro in accordance with a partnership agreement.