|By Carmelo Turdo|
Jacek Rejman (L) with Steve Long, Wings of Hope
Director of Hangar Operations
Wings of Hope is a global humanitarian charity that has based its mission on being an aviation non-profit organization. The mission statement contains the objectives of delivering humanitarian programs to the poor and assisting communities in gaining self-sufficiency. "Our mission as an aviation nonprofit is to lift up people in need and give them access to health and self-sufficiency,” Wings of Hope Communications Manager Carol Enright told The Aero Experience during our visit. Using aircraft to reach remote places is the logical method. Starting in 1959, various Catholic ministries started providing humanitarian air services in Kenya. Not unlike Charles Lindbergh's preparations for the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, Bishop Houlihan approached St. Louis businessmen Bill Edwards, Joe Fabick, Paul Rodgers and George Haddaway to listen to his needs and provide the seed money for the first Cessna U206 used by the newly-minted United Missionary Air Training and Transport. As news of this first successful aircraft service spread, more aircraft were needed. Wings of Hope incorporated in 1967, and has since provided humanitarian and development services around the world and in the U.S. through an inter-faith approach to serving the needs of all mankind.
The original mission of providing humanitarian aid to people in developing countries using aircraft continues, and includes significant investment in programs that address health, education, economic opportunity and food security. Basic preventative health care services are accomplished through traveling clinics on a regular basis. Wings of Hope's Carol Enright highlighted the major programs, including flying medical clinics in Tanzania, the use of a Cessna 172 aircraft for emergency transport and preventive dental services in Nicaragua and the use of donated buses for medical clinics in Myanmar.
Education programs include a significant effort in Cambodia that provides after school education in English and computer classes to improve the job prospects for the students. Also, university scholarships and training programs help to equip students to mentor others and lift up whole communities.
Economic development programs include a microfinance program for women to develop businesses in Kenya and work centers in India to assist in the creation of new businesses. Both methods provide opportunities for women to participate in gaining self-sufficiency for their families.
Food security programs, like the chicken framing initiative in Ecuador, strive to equip the women of their communities with a means to sustain food production beyond the initial donations of eight chicks.
In the U.S., Wings of Hope continues to provide the Medical Relief and Air Transport (MAT) Program from its base in St. Louis. The program was established in 2003 to provide access to life-saving health care within the Midwest to those who are unable to obtain or sustain transportation to specialty care facilities. This is accomplished using corporately-owned aircraft and volunteer pilots and medical staff. In 2015, 267 patients were served on 495 flights using Wings of Hope aircraft or through the provision of commercial aircraft flights when practical. The MAT program is the largest single program measured by total resources committed.
The Aero Experience is proud to profile Wings of Hope as part of our Midwest Aviation Year of Aviation Service series, and we invite our audience to support their programs. See their exhibit at the upcoming Spirit of St. Louis Airshow and enter the raffle to win....
The Aero Experience thanks Wings of Hope for their hospitality and assistance in preparing this story. Some photos used herein were taken during previous visits.