Lydia Westi is a little angel studying, learning and helping others through the gift of flight. This young lady once dreamed of becoming a hairdresser because her family didn’t have enough money to send her to school, and now she is flying airplanes, and helping save lives.
We first met Lydia when she was fifteen years old, as one of our Why I Want To Fly essay contest winners. We were with her while she went through surgery on her arm. And now you’re about to see this beautiful young lady growing up as she spreads her wings flying into the future with grace and glory, and two working hands. Please take a moment to read Lydia’s Story and her essay by clicking HERE. Then come on back to read what Lydia has been up to.
Karlene: Your life has changed completely over the previous few years. But I know you have fond memories of growing up. What was your favorite?
Lydia: I enjoyed going to church and the Gospel songs.
Karlene: Tell me about that turning point in your life, in your mother’s store. At the time, what did you think of these strangers asking you about your arm, and did you have any idea where it would lead?
Lydia: The only thing I asked is 'why is that these people are only asking about my arm and have stopped buying things to just talk about my arm'. I did not have any idea what would happen.
Karlene: Mr. Porter has changed your life in many ways. First he gave opportunity to fly. Second he’s working to help fix your arm. How does this make you feel to have this person, who once was a stranger come into your life and change it?
Lydia: I was very happy when they came into my life.
Karlene: I know you are, as I know he is grateful you are in his as well. What does learning to fly mean to you?
Lydia: Flying means so many things. To be able to fly to the rural communities is really important also taking them health care. The day I first flew, that day was the happiest day of my life. Flying now makes me feel excited and I giggle a lot when making the plane do things.
Karlene: I can imagine that was the happiest day of your life, flight has changed your life in so many ways.
Lydia: My first flight was a little bit scary and I held onto the seatbelt because I was scared, and then we flew around the airfield and I could see the lake and land, seeing everything from the air I asked myself 'So, we have this beautiful land around us', I did not know it was so beautiful when I only saw it from the ground.
Karlene: One of the greatest gifts for pilots is to experience a different view of the world. Some of the most incredible scenes I’ve ever seen have been in flight. You were recently given another gift as you underwent some serious surgeries, can you tell me about this?
Lydia: My arm was not very useful how it was. The surgeons cut my back to take muscle for my arm and my legs to make skin grafts for my arm.
Karlene: The advancement of medicine never ceases to amaze me. How successful were the procedures?
Lydia: I think that they are very good. My hand is still not in the normal place, but it works very well and I can do many things now. Even wear long sleeve shirts and blouses and get washed and dressed easier. It is also easier to do the washing and cooking this way - AND flying!
Karlene: I know there were many people in the United States praying for you. It must have been frightening to go through this. How much do you remember?
Lydia: It was scary, and at one point I thought I was going to die... I don't remember but I am told that at one point I called out 'Alpha Alpha, finals to land'. I think that the idea of getting better to fly helped me a lot to get better - especially with the painful physio from Aunty Alberta!
Karlene: Having something to look forward to is very important to recovery. And your flying is important to many. Can you tell me what Medicine on the Move all about, and how they have impacted your life?
Lydia: Medicine on the Move help the rural communities that need help with health education and training. On Monday I gave a SODIS (Solar Water Disinfection) demonstration to some of the community members who came for training. I have also learned to do patient assessments including taking blood pressure and taking care of wounds. If somebody had taken care of my wounds as a child I would not be disabled today. I want to teach others so that they don’t have to go through what I have been through.
Karlene: What are you plans for the future?
Lydia: I want to FLY. I want to fly to take basic health care to rural communities, if possible. I have already been practicing the ETCHE bag drops and am learning to fly the Medicine on the Move Zenith CH701. I am also learning to service the Rotax engines and enjoy working on the carburetors and changing the oil (I get to cut open the oil filters for inspections)
Karlene: Tell me about the above photo.
Lydia: I was interviewed on TV3 to share with the audience how I have overcome my disabilities and turned them into abilities - because disability is not an inability...
Lydia, you have proven a disability is not an inability. You are such an inspiration to so many people, and give strength to all. I look forward to the day I can come to Ghana again and meet you in person.
Captain Yaw is the man who changed Lydia’s life and is changing the lives of the people in Ghana with Medicine On the Move—MOM. After spending the previous few weeks in a hospital in Seattle, with all the challenges that presented, I still feel fortunate for the medical facilities we have available in the U.S. I asked Captain Yaw what the hospitals were like in Ghana and this was his reply:
Rural hospitals in Ghana go from OK to 'seriously lacking'. Many don't have doctors - others are, in effect empty buildings. The majority are lacking in supplies and cleanliness is a surprise when you find it.
The big city hospitals, such as where Lydia was, have some fantastic doctors and nurses, and a lot of patients... the patients are more than they can handle. Surgery is carried out back to back in the theatres... the challenge of the environment leads to complications and infections...
Everything here is a challenge - from the quality of the power to the regularity of the water supply - imagine the related impact on medical things…
I can imagine.
Creating awareness is the first step to change. Please take a moment to drop by and see what Medicine on the Move is doing. They changed Lydia’s life, as they are many more.
Enjoy the Journey!