NAMPA, Idaho — A major humanitarian organization has it's United States headquarters based in the Treasure Valley and is sending volunteers and supplies to flooded areas of Mozambique.
Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAP) is based in Nampa and has hundreds of employees from around the nation.
MAF does several humanitarian flights throughout the world each year, helping countries most in need. Currently, the organization has a team in Africa helping with severe flooding on several parts of the continent.
Crews have been traveling the world since the organization started back in 1945.
Currently, four MAF team members and two aircraft are working in Mozambique to help people recover after a massive cyclone hit the coast near the city of Beira on March 14.
MAF sends aid to people around the world who often have no other means of getting help. Since their specialty is flight, their job is also to give a bird’s eye view of what areas are most in need and where emergency help needs to go.
That’s what the crew was able to do in Mozambique.
“We started doing aerial assessments and what we saw was just devastating,” said John Woodberry, MAF’s global disaster response manager. “You saw areas that are typically dry just covered in water, you found people on the roof of their homes, in trees. And basically, the aerial assessment helped people know where to respond, where the needs were. And when that got out, it helped other people know where to come and bring rapidly needed help.”
With flooding taking out many of the roads, MAF uses aircraft to get necessities, like food and medical supplies, to those people.
“We helped with air bridge flying so people, food, tents, and other things can get into the staging area of Beira,” Woodberry described. “We’ve partnered with Mercy Air, who has a small helicopter. That helicopter is delivering food and tents to some of the areas where these people are basically just on a tuft of land, termite mound, or on their roofs.”
They also bring in other necessities and a means of communicating when normal methods of communication are unavailable following a major disaster.
“We bring in remote living kits, we bring in backpacking food and water filters, we have communication kits,” he said. “The team arrives with SAT phones, units, basically so you can email, call and help people know what else is needed, connect with other people, network.”
Woodberry said MAF also monitors several resources like disaster response websites to keep an eye on coming events. That way, they can get crews in ahead of the disaster and help, like they were able to in Mozambique.
Africa is far from the group’s first humanitarian mission this year.
“It’s been busy over the last year,” Woodberry said. “Beginning of last year we were involved in a large earthquake response in Papua New Guinea, there was an Ebola response that we’re still actively engaged in in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we were involved in a typhoon response in the Philippines, there was a tsunami/earthquake in Sulawesi, in Indonesia a big response there."
So far this year, MAF has also sent response teams to help with evacuations in Haiti and now, flooding in Mozambique.
Woodberry said one of the reasons MAF is an international organization and focuses its efforts overseas, rather than in the U.S., is that’s where the real need is.
He said people in countries like Mozambique often have no other resources and are counting on groups like MAF to come help.
“Typically, what we find in really remote areas globally and overseas, where’s there not the infrastructure and other let’s say, government capacity to rapidly respond to a disaster, that’s where we’re able to come in a real help,” Woodberry said. “In the U.S., when you have a disaster, there’s a lot from the national guard, FEMA and all these other agencies, there’s a lot of capacity to respond.”
Woodberry said MAF will be sending two more staff members to Mozambique over the next few days. The response team will stay there until they are no longer needed, which is expected to be another few weeks.
MAF is a non-profit group so it does have a disaster relief fund set up for anyone who wants to donate to help those countries they respond to.