A Royal Encounter for MAF Pilot in Angola

Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) Pilot, Marijn Goud, was honoured to meet HRH The Duke of Sussex while he was visiting an active minefield being cleared by The HALO Trust near Dirico, Angola. MAF was on-site to provide flights to staff of The HALO Trust.

Guelph, Ontario, CANADA

DIRICO, Angola, Sept. 28, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Prince Harry visited Dirico, Angola on September 27th in support of The HALO Trust, a demining organization that Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) has provided flights for since HALO began work in the country in 1994. On-site that day to provide flights for HALO staff, MAF pilot Marijn Goud had the honour of meeting the Prince. As they spoke Prince Harry remarked, "HALO could not do it without you, thanks!"

Marijn shares: "It's been an absolute honour to meet him there and be a part of the incredible work HALO is doing in Angola. This will benefit so many of the isolated people we serve."

HALO undertakes the dangerous, and incredibly important work of locating and removing landmines that still lurk underground more than 17 years after the end of the civil war that ravaged Angola for almost three decades. Their staff work tirelessly to recover these landmines, and rehabilitate entire tracts of land, improving the safety of millions of Angolans.

Outfitted in body armour, The Duke of Sussex walked an active minefield and remotely detonated a landmine to remove it from the field in Dirico before visiting Huambo, the site that his mother, Princess Diana, visited in 1997.

Her visit brought international attention to this cause, and its impact on those that live in areas where the landmines still silently lie in wait. At the time Princess Diana visited Huambo, the area was being cleared of mines by HALO’s dedicated team. Sadly, she didn’t live to see the incredible impact her visit had. Today, there are homes, shops, and paved roads where mines once threatened – the land finally reclaimed after being made safe by HALO’s work which she supported.

MAF is proud to partner with HALO in Angola, as they continue their life-saving work.  Over the years, we have provided transport logistics for team members and VIPs conducting site visits, and arranged flights to remote communities for staff changes.

Our aircraft is also on call around-the-clock should the need arise for a casualty evacuation (casevac).  This emergency service is something we hope we never need to provide, but is an essential support to HALO’s ongoing operations. With HALO’s commitment to the proper training and safety of their teams, and their careful operations, despite the dangers, the requirement for emergency flights has been extremely rare over the past 25 years that we have worked together.

“As people providing technical support and practical help for rural Angolan communities, we are pleased to be able to support The HALO Trust in their efforts to remove landmines and other unexploded ordinance.  Although the conflict has been over for many years, this material continues to cause horrific injuries and death to rural people generations later.  We are excited to see cleared areas of land returned to community use for farming, schools, and housing, freed from the land-mine threat that existed for so many years,” shares Lowell Deering, VP of Operations and Recruiting, for MAF Canada.

MAF began operating in Angola in 1989 to provide essential support for NGOs, missions, and churches in a country still in the grip of civil war; 1.5 million lives were lost and 4 million people displaced in the 27 years of fighting from 1975 to 2002.

During that time, an estimated 10 million landmines were laid all over the country for maximum destruction during the war, encircling communities and endangering roads. These remnants of war continue to put Angolans at risk every day as they travel, work the ground for farming, and simply walk around their communities.

HALO reports to have removed over 100,000 landmines to date, but consider that their work is far from finished. They also work in cooperation with the Angolan police and military to destroy thousands of weapons and tons of ammunition, much of which is also left over from the war.

Mission Aviation Fellowship operates a fleet of some 130 airplanes worldwide. Since 1945, MAF has enabled the work of churches, relief organizations, missionaries, medical teams, development agencies, and others working to make life better for those who live in the most isolated parts of the world. In 2018 MAF flights served 28 locations in Angola, and worked with 31 partner organizations to bring immediate hope, help and healing to those in need. MAF celebrated 30 years of service in Angola earlier this year. MAF’s Canadian headquarters is located in Guelph, Ontario.

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/7e99949f-9b73-4f26-a0c2-4e98fb04c0e8

Prince Harry and MAF Pilot Marijn