One day after the arrival of our first twin-engine plane, the value of having our aviation program was shown again. Our co-founder Segundo Velasquez is currently traveling in Bolivia with a group from the US. While there we found out that another organization that we have been in contact with for awhile had their staff traveling this week as well – we have been trying for a few years to connect with them in Bolivia, and this was our first opportunity. So Segundo booked a commercial flight from Cochabamba (our headquarters) to La Paz. One minute after booking (and taking our money), the airline canceled the flight. As Segundo said, “but that is Bolivia!”
This was our first opportunity to meet in Bolivia and we were working in a very small window when people were available. If we didn’t have our aviation program we would have been stuck. But instead Captain Ivo Jr., one of our pilots, volunteered and flew Segundo to La Paz to make the meeting.
Beyond providing emergency air rescues, which is the primary service that the aviation program provides, it is also an essential program for our staff in Bolivia. It turns 18-hour drives into 60-minute flights, allowing volunteer health professionals in Bolivia to spend more time with patients on weekend health clinics; it allows our staff to repair a broken part on our heavy equipment and return it on-site in 1 or 2 days rather than 1 or 2 weeks; and it allows our staff to do site visits in hours rather than days.