In the international air cargo community, Captain Fokko Doyen is widely known as the Head of the Lufthansa Cargo MD-11 freighter fleet. However, since last week Fokko reached new (almost unattainable) heights, coming close to sainthood. Lufthansa Cargo’s Ambassador for humanitarian aid has been exactly that for hundreds of Kenyan children, supported and sheltered by a blossoming project that he initiated in Nairobi a decade ago in close cooperation with the local Anglican Church.
One can rest assured that last Thursday became one of the most memorable days in Fokko’s professional life when a special selection of guest speakers, attending a Cargo Human Care charity event in Nairobi, offered not only their respectful admiration for his enduring and exemplary support of the children in need in Kenya, but honored him with a tsunami-like cascade of praise and adoration.
Charles Owino for instance, Airport Manager of Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) and Chief of Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International spoke of Fokko as someone sent from heaven who appears to have
grown wings for descending to earth to give deprived local children hope and perspective for their lives. “On behalf of Kenya Airports Authority it’s our pleasure to support you wherever we can,”
Bishop Timothy Ranji of the Anglican Church in Kenya bowed symbolically in deep gratitude to Fokko’s exceptional achievement commending with many warm words Fokko’s steadfast engagement for Kenyan kids who haven’t had much joy in their young lives... Until the Anglican Church admitted them to Mothers’ Mercy Home (MMH), an institution which belongs to the church, but is financed and supported by Cargo Human Care together with Germany’s leading daily newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ).
Giving children a future. “Step by step”
These and more acknowledgements warmly commending Mr. Doyen’s and Lufthansa Cargo’s exemplary humanitarian activities were the prelude to an unforgettable feast that transformed Kenia Airways’ warehouse and part of the adjoining tarmac at Jomo Kenyatta into a huge party zone energized by the drummers and dancers dressed in imaginative costumes creating a fantastic atmosphere.
The celebration was prompted by the arrival of one of Lufthansa Cargo’s MD-11Fs Thursday afternoon featuring the footprints of 24 kids on the large hull. At the rear of the fuselage the Cargo Human Care credo was clearly visible: “Step by step. Giving children a future.” The footsteps belong to actual children that Cargo Human Care is looking after. In total, 150 youths have been given a home, provided with nourishment and education by the humanitarian organization. 37 of these youngsters were selected by MMH and given the opportunity to draw their names on the footprints that adorn the MD-11F. “This aircraft is our Ambassador carrying the name of Cargo Human Care and its underlying idea, around the world,” applauded the deeply moved Fokko Doyen after the freighter had arrived which was celebrated lively by the attendees.
“I have been flying on behalf of Lufthansa Cargo now for sixteen years but I have never ever during my career as pilot experienced such an enthusiastic welcoming ceremony before,” according to Captain Sebastian Klingen, after he left the cockpit of the D-ALCH registered MD-11F.
John Kaheni Residence
Only 24 hours before the John Kaheni Residence, a new orphanage named after Fokko’s godson who passed away at the age of 20 of an incurable heart disease, opened its doors for the first time. It was a poignant moment when John’s grandmother was guided to the doorsteps by Bishop Timothy to cut the ribbon clearing the way to enter the building. Addressing the attendees of the ceremony directly while looking at Fokko, the ecclesiastical dignitary said: “I call this man an angel!”
Culture of consistency
What does Lufthansa Cargo have in common with the John Kaheni Residence, asked LH Cargo Board Member Finances, Martin Schmitt the invitees. Delivering the answer right after: “Not just talking, but doing!” “We at Lufthansa Cargo have a culture of consistency. When we start something, we also finish it. Let the house become a symbol of practical progress and welfare,” Martin exclaimed.
Up to 24 youngsters can be accommodated there, offered vocational training courses and different subject matters by skilled professionals. The facility, which will become operational next summer, and is headed by the energetic Mary Wanjiku who expects her future students “to walk out here one day with dignity and optimism and their shoulders high to make their contribution to the future of Kenya.”
Steinmeier to become JKR patron
Final words from ‘Saint’ Fokko: “I am very proud to announce that the German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has proudly agreed to become the patron of our new John Kaheni Residence.”
What does Franka, Fokko’s wife say about being married to an angel? “During the next days it will be my job to reduce him to normal size again getting him down from the clouds and have him as husband and man again.”
Heiner Siegmund / Michael Taweel