BahamaIslandsInfo.com recently featured the February Bahamas Habitat Fly-In and Help Out event on their web site. The post commends the fantastic volunteer pilots who came together to make a difference while gaining valuable flight experience.
Private pilots join Bahamas Methodist Habitat
Fly-In and Help Out
Published: Wednesday, 22 February 2012 18:40
ELEUTHERA, Bahamas — 14 private planes swarmed Governor’s Harbour Airport (MYEM) via Showalter Air in Orlando, Florida on Thursday, February 16th, 2012 for the 10th Bi-annual Bahamas Habitat Fly-In and Help Out event. The volunteer pilots and crew flew in their services to Eleuthera residents affected by Hurricane Irene in partnership with Bahamas Methodist Habitat (BMH) based at Camp Symonette in James Cistern.
The planes and participants were members of Bahamas Habitat (BH), a US-based aviation enthusiast non-profit that provides construction assistance and disaster relief primarily in The Bahamas and Haiti. BH works in supportive collaboration with BMH, a faith-based Bahamian disaster relief non-profit of the Bahamas Conference of the Methodist Church (BCMC). They provide substandard housing home repair and disaster relief with local and international volunteer coordination. BMH promotes volunteer tourism, resource mobilization, community sharing and cultural exchange while building and repairing homes and community structures.
In addition to the mission’s substandard home repair focus, they also flew over 300,000 pounds of disaster relief supplies in partnership with Rotary International from The US and The Bahamas to Haiti during the early stages of the earthquake relief work just two years ago. BMH and BH have also raised over $250,000 for the construction of the Zion Children’s Home on Current Island Eleuthera. The second children’s home of the BCMC is scheduled to open later this Spring 2012 and will provide a safe and loving home for eight boys and eight girls from throughout The Bahamas.
The two executive boards met, worked and shared with each other over the weekend in James Cistern to strategize future goals and achievements. John Armstrong, President of Bahamas Habitat and Rev. Dr. Godfrey Bethel, Chairman of Bahamas Methodist Habitat, expressed gratitude and excitement over the collaborative efforts of both organizations. Special mention was given to John Armstrong and the entire US Board by Rev. Dr. Bethel and Abraham McIntyre, Executive Director of BMH, who presented a plaque and gift of appreciation for the support provided by BH to BMH. Rev. Bethel mentioned in his word of thanks that, “I wasn’t too sure about all the planes and flying when you all first started talking about them … however, now I’m a believer!”
The Fly-In and Help Out event provides an excellent opportunity for pilots to meet other mission focused pilots, fly to Eleuthera and spend a weekend assisting in building and repairing homes on the island. This event attracted over 36 persons who repaired roofs on five homes in James Cistern and one home in Governor’s Harbour. The volunteer pilots flew in from as far north as Delaware and as far west as Texas, with participants hailing from Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, New York, Georgia and of course Florida. Other participants in the Help Out event included a family members, a world-touring cyclist from England and other visitors staying in Eleuthera who had construction experience. It was a fantastic opportunity for networking and sharing community outreach on the island.
The Bahamas Habitat pilots also flew in construction supplies, hardware for kitchen cabinets and doors, and household items for the nearly completed Zion Children’s Home on Current Island and delivered them on their Saturday visit to the site. They had an adventurous trip whereby they were ferried across the Current Cut from mainland Eleuthera and trucked to the home where they were welcomed by the ZCH visionaries, Deacon Earmily Munroe and her sister Deacon Geleta Turnquest. Harbour Island Methodist Church also benefited from the Fly-In by receiving 18 computers which were set up as a computer lab by Rev. John Baldwin since the local library on the island had received damage during Hurricane Irene. The rest of Saturday was spent relaxing at several points of interest on the island including Preacher’s Cave and Queen’s Baths and a breath-taking flight to Staniel Cay, Exuma to gain more flying experience in The Bahamas with some added relaxation time and a great lunch.
Steve Merritt, Treasurer and Aviation and Logistics Coordinator of BH advised event volunteers, “not to forget about the experience and to share it with others at home because through this fantastic experience further resources and increased membership may be realized during conversations”. He mentioned that he appreciated the support and efforts made by all volunteers especially in recognition of the dangers that come with flying over open water, as for some it was their first time doing so. This biannual event serves as a low stress training for pilots interested in flying after a island disaster such as Hurricane Irene when over 25 pilots flew for two weeks through out the Central and Southern Bahamian islands delivering tarps, water, food, clothes and medical supplies.
BMH is in need of funding for the ongoing disaster relief mission, completion of the Zion Children’s Home and most urgently a donated airplane for their country wide mission that stretches from Freeport, Grand Bahama to Matthew Town, Inagua. If you or someone you know is interested in donating a Cherokee Six, Cessna 182/206 or Piper Aztec, etc. please contact BMH immediately. General Aviation allows BMH to respond to disasters in an efficient and effective manner with their time and funding throughout this great country.
Photo 1: Fly-In volunteers visited the nearly completed Zion Childrens Home on Current Island, joined by the women of the island that are making the dream and calling a reality.
Photo 2: Will and Seth Carlton of Dallas, Texas complete their pre-flight checklist as one of 14 planes that flew to Governors Harbour Airport this weekend.