All photos and text are property of Dave Forney and may not be used without express permission.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Face Art, Family, Archives, and other Random Stuff

In case it's not obvious from my very sporadic blog posts of late, the past few months have been very, very busy for us.  For the past three and a half weeks, it's actually just been me and these three rugrats holding down the fort here in Uganda (this is actually an old picture from last May b/c I don't have a current one of the three of them together.)  

Thanks to our good friends, Brady and Heather Thornton, and their church, Life Fellowship Family Bible Church, our older two kids had the amazing opportunity to fly back to the U.S. to participate in a youth program in CO. We were actually willing to let them fly back to the U.S. on their own--just the two of them--but because of high surcharges added to the ticket fees for unaccompanied minors flying internationally, that was just too expensive. Then, Joy's family offered to help her get a ticket to fly to OR, to be there for the birth of her sister's baby, and just to hang out for a few weeks and recharge her batteries. So, the three of them flew together to the U.S., and then Joy stayed in OR, while our older two kids flew on their own from there to CO. Britt and Hannah had an absolutely incredible time with the Thorntons and their church youth group!  And Joy's time in Oregon was really special and rejuvenating.  


Meanwhile, I've been very busy flying full-time here, and trying to play the role of a working, single dad to the three younger ones. They've been great, and we've had a lot of fun in the evenings and weekends when I'm home.

So what do the boys do when the women are out of the house?--well, one of the fun things we did was some fancy 'Face Art'. This is not something that is generally recommended when the wife is home, so this was the perfect opportunity. Starting last November, I decided to lose my razor, knowing that I was going to be doing some fill-in flying assignments where it was a lot colder, and the beard would come in handy.  Over the next few months the beard sort of took on a life of it's own, until sometime around March I realized that I was starting to look like a flying Sasquatch. When I finished one short-term flying assignment, and returned to fly in Uganda again, I realized that some of my passengers seemed a wee bit nervous about my 'professional appearance'.  So I took some scissors and did some shearing.

But frankly, it's a pain to trim a beard, and knowing I'd be flying again in the colder region, I simply let it go again until I returned from my next assignment at the end of May. By then, it was getting hot here in Uganda, and I decided it was time to get rid of the yak fur that was growing on my face. Joy had just left for the U.S., and my three younger boys, who were here with me in Uganda, begged me to shave it off in 'stages'--one each day for a week. Of course, that sounded like a great idea to me, (what guy doesn't like to create art with his facial hair??) so that's what we did. And yes, I did go out in public each day, and yes, I did fly my passengers while looking like this. Hey, it's art!  Fortunately, the 'Hitler Stache' (AKA "Ugly Dave" in the picture below) fell on a Saturday, so I didn't have to see too many people that day.  Anyway, here is the documentation of all of that wonderful facial art. I hope you enjoy it as much as my boys and I did! Haha.


What else did we do while Joy and the older kids were gone? Well, in addition to lots of laundry, cooking, dishes, feeding animals, etc., we played a lot of outdoor games like Rollers (below) and croquet...


We played a lot of indoor games like Risk (below) and Monopoly...


And we fixed a lot of things around the house, and built some things like this chicken feeder.


On Father's day the boys had helped to make cinnamon buns for breakfast, and they decorated the dining room and made a sign and cards.


In truth, we've had a lot of fun, but we also worked hard--the boys have been home on their own a lot over the past few weeks while I was flying, and they have done an amazing job being responsible to do all of their chores, and keep the house in order. As I was thinking, on Father's day, how blessed I am to be a father to five amazing kids, it occurred to me that they are growing up SO FAST! It seems like just yesterday that we were flying back to Indonesia with two, tiny little bundles of joy (actually they didn't seem too 'joyful' back then, as they seemed to scream a lot). And now look at them!  Anyway, that got me reminiscing, and I looked back and found this family photo taken 10 years ago.


And while I was back there in the old photo files, I saw this one, which reminds me of the jungle flying I did in Indonesia.


And since this is a totally random blog post, I'll just throw in a few current pics... here are some sunrises from my bedroom window this week, here in Uganda.



And now I have to go make breakfast for the boys! 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

View From the Office Window

I've spent two of the past three months helping out with some flying in a different location. Not too shabby a view from my office window hugh? 
















Saturday, May 13, 2017

Water

Water is one of the absolute, life-critical needs that every carbon-based living thing on earth requires. Yet many of us completely take it for granted. Not so in South Sudan!


Available water sources are often far away from peoples' huts and villages.  They must walk a long way (in many cases an hour or more each way) to/from the water source--a journey which can be fraught with danger for the women and kids who are most-typically tasked with this arduous daily chore.


The critical task of getting sufficient water for one's family can take several hours each and every day!


If it's dry season, and/or there is no local river or stream nearby (which is often the case) then the most likely source of water will be a hand-dug well, like the ones pictured above and below.


A hand-dug well can be quite deep--the water level in the one above is about 60 feet down.


The ladies use whatever water-holding container they can find--old cans, plastic jugs, etc--to which they tie a long rope.  They then toss their water container over the edge, until it splashes down, far below, into the dirty water hidden at the bottom of the dark hole. Then, after their container fills, they pull it up, hand over hand to the top, where they pour it into a larger container. The process is repeated many times over by each person, each day, in order to fill one or more larger container(s), in order to get enough precious water to provide for their family's needs that day. As you can see in the picture below, the ropes cut grooves into the logs (this is extremely hard and dense wood!) that are placed around the edges of the well. I asked, and was told, that this log (below) has been here at this well for at least 20 years!


After all of that hard work, the result is a can of murky (at best) water. As the shallow water at the bottom of the well becomes stirred up, from all the cans dropping in, it get's more and more muddy. Can you imagine spending several hours of your day, each and every day, working so hard for something that is so critical, and yet so easily obtained (and often wasted) by most of us?


In contrast to the above hand-dug wells, the below pictures show bore holes, which produce a much more reliable, clean, source of water, that is also much more easily and quickly obtained through a hand operated pump.



Several organizations we fly throughout Northern and Eastern Uganda, and South Sudan, are focusing on providing reliable, clean water sources, like these, in strategic locations.


Of course, people still have to walk to/from the bore hole, usually carrying their water on their heads.


However, the bore holes are placed in strategic locations that not only make it much safer and quicker for those who are tasked with this daily chore, but also generally help foster strategic relationships between the organization and the local community. And that goes a long way towards building the trust and respect that is required to open doors for the other projects and objectives the organization might have in the area. 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

What we Do

Most organizations working in places like remote parts of South Sudan, would not willingly keep their staff in those locations if they did not have access to air services like MAF.


Here's some shots that show you what it is that we do... 


This is one of our partner agencies, who I flew to Mvolo, South Sudan. There's always a large crowd around when the plane arrives!


In January I was up in Tonj, South Sudan, for a week. One of the last days I was there, another one of our MAF aircraft came in to drop off some supplies, before heading even further north. It was a great opportunity for me to get some shots of two of our planes at the same location.


Even better, I was able to get some shots of the pilot, Rembrand, unloading the aircraft, and of course taking off and landing.


This is what we do day in and day out (although we usually fly more people than cargo--but definitely a combination of both).


As you can imagine, it's tough to get photos of ourselves 'in action' because there's usually not two of us at the same location at the same time. Also, when we're on the ground, our focus is understandably on the aircraft and it's surroundings... keeping things safe and efficient. So anyway, aside from being a great excuse for me to not get my hands dirty by helping offload the cargo, taking photos was actually a great opportunity for us to show what it is that we do out there behind the scenes.


And here is Rembrand, taking off from Tonj, on his way to Malualkan.


The smiles say it all!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Faces of South Sudan

Hi friends. Sorry for the silence on my blog for a while. I was out of the country for a month, helping with some flying in a different location. And things have been very busy since my return.

Are you familiar with the ongoing situation in South Sudan? In case you haven't seen it in the news (which is likely, since it doesn't seem to get much media attention in the West) the situation in South Sudan continues to become more dire. Recently, a famine was officially declared in South Sudan--the fist time in the past six years that this has occurred anywhere in the world. Sadly, it's mostly man-caused, due to the ongoing civil war. Thousands continue to flee South Sudan each and every day. Uganda is by far the largest host to South Sudan refugees, which continue to pour over the border at an astounding rate. In fact, the Bidi Bidi camp in Northern Uganda is now the number one largest refugee camp in the world.  About two weeks ago I saw a statement from the UN indicating that the situation in South is the fastest growing, large-scale humanitarian crisis in the world right now.

In addition to flying from here, up to several locations in South Sudan at least twice a week, MAF Uganda is also flying people daily to a number of locations in Northern Uganda, where they are working in the refugee camps. It's hard to contemplate the pain and suffering that millions are facing every day in this, the youngest country in the world. But it's real, and it's happening now! Please commit to PRAY for our friends in South Sudan--the South Sudanese themselves, and also those who are working among them.

Here are a few of the South Sudanese I met while I was doing a one-week flight trip with Every Village, back in January. I'm always touched by the lovely smiles I see, and the joy that they find in the simplest of things, despite the hardships and struggles they face every day.

This is Abraham--that's the new name he took after he turned from his 'old life.' Formerly he was one of the most powerful and feared/respected spear masters in his region. But last year he heard an incredible message of hope and love from some of my friends who work up there, and he subsequently burned all of his idols, turned his back on his old life, and now lives a new life! His is an incredible story--perhaps I can tell you more about it in person some day...















The South Sudanese are usually very eager to have their picture taken, as they don't get to see an image of themselves very often. Think about it--no mirrors in the bathroom--no bathroom at all in fact, no selfies to share on social media every few hours... can you imagine? How often do you check yourself out each day??

So, an important part of taking photos in a place like this, is making sure you take the time to share the photos with the people. Here's a shot that someone took of me, with my phone, as I'm sharing some photos with Abraham.