Clinic in the Sky

December 2007

Rebecca Moran ’95 is one of five volunteers who make up the Flying Medical Service based in Arusha, Tanzania. The main work of FMS is to support the bush hospital’s outreach clinics. On a typical work day, Rebecca flies to the hospital, picks up the doctor and nurses, then flies to three or four remote airstrips to set up clinics where they vaccinate babies, examine pregnant women, and treat the sick.

The top priority of the organization, though, is flying to outlying locations to pick up patients who need medical care. Rebecca told this story via e-mail: “The last emergency I flew was to pick up a pregnant Masai woman who lives high on the ridges of Ngorongoro Crater. Someone with a cell phone hiked up to the tallest hill to get reception, called me, and I left immediately to fetch her. She had delivered one of her twins, but it had already died. We brought her to the town hospital where she had surgery and is doing well. The babies didn’t survive, but the mother did.”

Making a significant impact on the health and lives of others brings Rebecca great satisfaction. “FMS is a charitable organization that makes sense and I’m happy to be a part of it,” she says.

The work of FMS is possible only through the help of donors. All flights are subsidized; patients contribute financially for fuel costs if they are able, but no one is ever turned away for inability to pay. Rebecca works for room and board and a small stipend to cover expenses.

All of this is a long way from the life Rebecca knew while attending PCDS, but she sees a connection. “I think my goal to make helping poor and needy people part of my life is a reaction to the wealth I’ve seen and the comfortable lifestyle I had growing up.” She admits that while at PCDS she didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life, but college counselor Paul Schweikher helped her find direction. “He helped me choose a good college [Lewis and Clark] with an international emphasis, where I got the idea to be a Peace Corps volunteer.”

Rebecca spent two years as a water and sanitation volunteer in the Gilbert Islands, Republic of Kiribati, a string of Pacific islands straddling the equator. After that she traveled extensively and continued to see need.

She says she “saw more of the world, different people and ways, inequalities, and the importance of giving one’s time to people just to chat.” 
Rebecca earned her pilot’s license in South Africa, and then traveled to Tanzania where she met the founder of FMS. Using her skills and experience to help the organization seemed a natural choice.

Rebecca recently married another FMS volunteer pilot, and both work on emergency standby status 24 hours a day to help Tanzania’s needy. FMS is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization that operates strictly on donations. Donations may be sent to Flying Medical Service, 1758 Manchester, G.P. Woods, MI  48236-1920. Visit http://www.flyingmedicalservice.org.