A sneak peek into the background workings of an NGO in the aviation industry.

Unfortunately, there aren't any hirsute hipster beards involved.

talking pilots orig

In our increasingly complex world where identities sometimes speak louder than what is spoken, communication and relationships are so important to foster. It is essential for Flying for Life as an NGO to work effectively, and without relationships, ideas to help a community rarely include the communities’ effort.

Relationships transform us as individuals; as we change as individuals, our organisation follows and the process perpetuates in the communities we work in.  So, before we begin to think what a community might need, we start a conversation with the Tribal Council of the place we are entering. In fact, it would be a lie not to mention the ‘appetizer’ meetings in the office. This is where everyone squeals with fervency about ideas of how we might make a difference. Then again, even before the meeting, it begins with our office culture. One that fosters unity, open communication and encouragement…and of course, great coffee but no hirsute hipster beards (since we’re an all-female office). Yes, you read that correctly!*

We reach the Tribal Authority with ideas, but they are fluid. Mostly, our ideas are birthed from what we have seen or from someone in the community we have met. Like our Ophthalmology Project. Our first surgery was for a young girl of 11 years old. She was referred to us through a nurse in Limpopo who went through Cancer Awareness Training with Choc (another partner we fly). And today, a flight carries Ophthalmic surgeons and nurses once a month to conduct 20 – 30 operations in one day, from one flight!

For every project that forms, we want to understand the voice of the people in the community and respect the leadership in it. Our diverse country brings with it traditions, customs and desires that change from culture to culture and tribe to tribe. Without these relationships that negotiate mutual understanding, misinterpretation and misalignment can occur, a place that is difficult to navigate.
It is well known that there are benefits of working with people, and unfortunately, there are challenges. Sometimes people don’t meet eye to eye, personalities can clash and our complexities can make you think that doing something yourself is easier. But like our African Proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.”

And so, we always choose the latter. We want longstanding affects in every community we land in, so our responsibility to work together in every step of the journey from the office, to the airstrip and into the community is non-negotiable.

Recently, we met with the Makuya Tribal Authority along with some of our partners. It was essential for us to harmonise our efforts and to keep each person up to date. Zig Ziglar explains this well, he believes, “In many ways, effective communication begins with mutual respect, communication that inspires, and encourages others to do their best.”

These meetings are continuous. And with each meeting, we are reminded how important it is to build on relationships, clear up confusion, or to realign our vision for a project.
Happily, we make a concerted effort to make every meeting transform into action, and when relationships have been built, the action is always sweeter to conduct.

*We are not feminists and we work with many men! But we’re certainly the anomaly in the aviation industry! 


PBO 930 038 143
Registration number: 2011/002050/08
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