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

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.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Trekking With My Son -- The White Clouds Wilderness Adventure (Part 4)

Here's the final post from my trek with Hudson in the White Clouds Wilderness of Idaho. Below, a panorama from my iPhone, looking down on the Four Lakes Basin from the pass between there and Born Lakes.


I think I mentioned it before, but there was some smoke the first day, lingering on the edges of the mountains, coming in from a distant forest fire. We were concerned that it might wind up really obscuring our views. But in the end, it made for some dramatic skies the first evening, and after we crossed the first high pass, we left the smoke behind for the remainder of our time there, until the last evening when we made our way back out again.


Here's another shot from the first evening--the smoke lingering in from the West (left) while the blue skies persist to the East. This is the trail through Ants Basin, towards the Born Lakes. That mule deer we saw (that I showed you last post) was enjoying the green grass of this meadow, on the edge of those pines in the distance.


Here's a shot of the sun sinking through the smoke over Fourth of July Lake, on our last evening before leaving the White Clouds Wilderness.


The rest of the time we enjoyed views like this one below. This is a shot looking down from the 10,150' pass above Headwall Lake, Scoop Lake, and Hummock Lake, at the upper end of the Boulder Chain Lakes area.


Here's a shot looking down on Quiet Lake, as we were descending from the Four Lakes Basin.


This was the view form our tent, the first night when we camped at one of the Born Lakes.


And this is the following morning, another one of the Born Lakes reflecting the deep, brilliant blue of the sky.


Here's an iPhone panorama looking down on the Born Lakes region.


And here's a shot looking down on Emerald Lake, Rock Lake, and Glacier Lake, with the upper end of Cornice Lake just barely visible on the left. These lakes (of the Four Lake Basin) were absolutely unbelievable crystal clear.


This was the sunset we enjoyed on our last evening in the White Clouds Wilderness. We ate our dinner that night while sitting on a rock on the edge of this lake, watching the sky change colors as the temperature dropped. A deer came out of the woods and walked almost all the way up to us, before shying away only slightly. We watched her until it was almost completely dark, and then retired to our campfire.


That's it. I hope you enjoyed some of the photos and description of my trek with Hudson into the White Clouds Wilderness. It was an epic and wonderful adventure for us. We bonded and made memories that will last a lifetime.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Trekking With My Son -- The White Clouds Wilderness Adventure (Part 3)

As promised, in this post I'll share with you some of the natural beauty--flowers and animals--we saw along the way. We definitely went at the right time of year for wildflowers! Below, Hudson catches his breath as we scale a flower-covered pass with Castle Peak visible in the distance.


It seemed like everywhere we looked there were wild herbs and flowers of every kind. The fragrance was amazing!


Smoke from a distant wildfire lingers over a high meadow full of flowers, on our first evening in the White Clouds Wilderness. After crossing the mountains that you can see in the distance we left the smoke behind, and didn't see it again until we left the area five days later.


The colors were amazing!




I mentioned that I would also show you some of the animals we saw. We saw lots of small animals--squirrels, gophers, chipmunks, etc., and plenty of amazing birds. But I don't have any pictures of those because I was never able to get my camera out before they fled.

Probably the animal we saw the most of was fish--trout to be specific. Beautiful, back-country trout swam happily in many of the crystal clear lakes. We had a lot of fun fishing--catching and releasing many beautiful trout along the way. Here's a shot of Hudson, casting his spinner into the cold waters of a high alpine lake.


And another, wider, shot (can you spot Hudson on the far bank?) to give you perspective of our gorgeous surroundings here. The entire White Cloud Peaks Loop could be done comfortably in three or four days. However, we took five days to do the full loop, pushing hard on some days so that we could enjoy some side excursions and fishing on other days. Near the end of our time we took one full day to rest and enjoy some fishing and camping at the Chamberlain Lakes, below. They were absolutely incredible.


We both caught dozens of trout, but Hudson caught the biggest one, a beautiful cutthroat that put up a tremendous fight. At the beginning of our trip he really didn't know how to even cast a line. By the end, he was a pro, having cast and reeled hundreds of times into holes where you could see the trout pursuing the spinners and spoons all the way in until they struck. I haven't enjoyed good fishing like that since my childhood in Brazil, when my own father used to take me into some remote rivers in the Amazon, and we pulled out peacock bass one after another (along with the occasional piranha.)



Here's a few more shots of us fishing, surrounded by God's beautiful creation.


Can you spot Hudson in the photo below? He's standing on a rock, in the sun, on the far bank of the lake. Our camp was just inside the trees on the right hand side of the photo. Not a bad place to spend a night or two!


After I did the trek through the jungles of Borneo, with my oldest son, Britt, back in late 2012, I made a "Man vs. Wild" style home movie about our adventure. It's nothing fancy, but I took video shots all along the way, and then threw it together with some music and later we watched it as a family and had some great laughs and fun as we watched the the memories unfold. For Britt, it was great fun to re-watch the adventure he and I had from the comfort of the living room. For his mom it was a chance to freak out at all of the "horribly dangerous things you guys did that could have resulted in death..." (but all the while beaming with pride and love, on the inside, for the courage and accomplishment of her 'boys'.) And for Britt's younger siblings, it was a great opportunity to celebrate with (and be a tad jealous of) their older brother, while at the same time looking forward to their own future adventures with their dad. 

Well, in that movie , Hudson saw his older brother jumping into all of the rivers and waterfalls in the jungle, at every chance he got. To be fair, it was very hot and humid in the jungle, and we were constantly sweating and stinking there--so it was only natural to want to cool off in any and all leech-infested water we found along the way. But conditions here in the Rockies were not the same--we spent much of our time above 9,000 feet, and the temperatures were cool to cold. All of the water was freezing cold! However, Hudson, not wanting to be outdone by his older brother, was determined to jump into the lakes to prove that he was just as 'tough' as Britt.  Of course, that meant that I had not choice, but to also jump in, as I wasn't about to be the only one chickening out. 

So, one day we chose a very deep, very cold, very clear lake at almost 10,000 feet of elevation and stripped down to our birthday suits. Sorry if that's too much info, but that's part of the story. We wanted to have dry clothes when re-emerged, freezing cold with teeth chattering. Haha. Anyway, the funny thing is that, there we were, standing naked on a large rock in the middle of nowhere, building up our courage to jump into the icy water, when Hudson suddenly points to the other side of the lake and gasps. My first thought was that he saw people--we hadn't seen anyone in the past several days, but that would be just our luck to have someone walk out right about then. But it wasn't people that Hudson was pointing at. It was mountain goats. I don't know how he spotted them, as they were incredibly camouflaged against the white granite rocks. But there they were--about eight of them, not more than a hundred yards away. I think they were as startled as we were--but probably slightly more appalled at seeing us in that state, than we were of seeing them. Haha. I wished I'd had a longer lens with me, but this is the best I could do with what I had. Anyway, we enjoyed watching them for several minutes as they drank from the lake, before heading back up the rugged rock cliffs behind them. Can you see them in this shot? They are right in the middle, just below the cliffs, and just above that large, flat rock. Trust me, they are there... just incredibly well camouflaged.


We also saw a nice mule deer buck one evening. Again, I wished I'd had a longer lens, but still I think you can spot it right in the middle of the shot.


Aside from that, we saw many fresh tracks of Elk, more mule deer, and even wolves. We also heard some wolves howling, but we never saw them.

And one evening as the sun was setting, we had a deer visit our camp, staying just five or ten meters away for about a half hour as we quietly watched.

Check back soon for one final post where I'll share some parting shots of our trek into the White Clouds Wilderness of Idaho.