In an organization full of extraordinary volunteers, Del & Annie Reiff stand out. By summer they are Iowa farmers, but when their harvest of corn and soybeans come in each fall, they take off around the world for humanitarian missions – including Guatemala, Belize, Panama, Guyana, Ecuador, Congo, and now Tanzania.
Both Annie and Del are commercial pilots and trained mechanics, so this winter they took on the important work of completing the annual safety inspection of two Wings of Hope planes in Tanzania.
They were amazed by the organization Wings of Hope field director Pat Patten has built there. “Of all the places we’ve been, involved with all of these different organizations, his commitment to doing it is probably right at the top for me. He really does put everything into it, his whole life. The services he provides are fantastic,” says Del. At his Olkokola compound, they run a daily clinic where 60 people line up each morning, and hold mobile clinics in remote villages that his pilots and medical team regularly visit. In addition, he runs a school offering vocational training for disabled Tanzanians, helping them secure meaningful work in their communities.
Del & Annie worked dawn to dusk every day and were able to complete the inspections in seven days, a considerable feat they attributed to good record-keeping and great support on the ground. It was an exhausting trip, but one they found very rewarding. So why do they keep pushing themselves? Del says, “We both do it for the adventure ourselves and we enjoy other cultures. We enjoy living the lifestyle of that culture, and getting to realize there’s a huge world out there. And every place has a different style of living – there’s a lot we can learn.” Annie agrees, “It’s great to actually live in another culture for a long enough time to know it as more than just a tourist.”
Del reflected on the impact of Wings of Hope around the world: “We’ve had people born in the airplane, and we’ve had people die in the airplane. People in the back country, when someone gets ill, they have no options. They may be only 50 miles from medical help, but they can’t get there. It saves lives.”
Thank you for your years of service, Del & Annie!