Two French pilots have gone over and above their call of duty for the sole reason of saving refugees from perils of sailing across the Mediterranean Sea. Jose Benavente Fuentes and Beniot Micolon combined their savings to buy a Dyn’Aero MCR-4S plane. The duo met while at the pilot school in 2006 and have invested in Pilotes Volontaires agency to support migrants’ crisis rescue effort in the Mediterranean.
The two bought the plane with their life savings because they felt it would have taken too long to crowdfund. They are no strangers to rescue missions, Benavente has worked for the Red Cross and witnessed challenges faced by Syrian migrants while Micolon previously flew planes to help put out forest fires in the south of France. They pooled $150,000 for the plane.
“Crowdfunding would have taken too much time. Spring is here, boats are starting to leave Tripoli again. When the humanitarian agency SOS_Mediterrenee explained that they were having to rescue canoes from the waves already, we realized we could be used immediately,” share Banavente.
Each year thousands of refugees pile into boats to escape difficult and even inhumane living conditions but some of them end up lost at sea and do not make it to dry land.
“It is very difficult to locate these small boats, sometimes carrying hundreds of people and often the vessels ready to help them arrive too late.” Their website reads, “We refuse to accept this fact as a fatality and we want to act to save more lives. Our mission is to provide air support, thanks to our aircraft adapted to search at sea.”
The pilots said they started with they had and have since started a website Pilotes Volontaires to continue raising cash and awareness. Members of the public can donate from $1 upwards. They add, “Behind our mission, it shows that everyone can help, even with only a few euros.” And we can’t agree more! This little plane has been dubbed the Hummingbird after a Native American story of the hummingbird that scoops up drops of water with its beak and drops them on flames in an attempt to stop a forest fire. It is about time we rally behind such humanitarian activities and do what we can to help others. #Rewordit