Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) is the world’s largest humanitarian airline, flying more than 2,000 partner organisations to reach people who would otherwise be unreachable. It brings life-saving medical care, food, doctors, aid workers, missionaries, disaster relief and community development to some of remotest places on earth.
Millions of people cannot access basic medical care, clean water, food or education, simply because it’s too dangerous or time-consuming to reach them. MAF’s flight service enables the world’s most isolated people to access the essentials they need to survive.
Every day, our 27 programmes around the world receive calls to carry out urgent life-saving medical evacuation flights. They are known as medevacs – and in Timor-Leste we have carried out more than 1,800 medical emergency flights since our programme started there in 2007. In the last six months of 2018, our aircraft transported over 300 patients from eight remote regions to the country’s main hospital in the capital Dili.
Back in 2013, our Timor-Leste team received an urgent call to help 23-year-old Elizita Cardoso, a young mother who had developed life-threatening pregnancy complications. Elizita was looking forward to the arrival of twins, but her feelings of joy had turned to fear when she began to show signs of pre-eclampsia towards the end of her pregnancy. The speedy delivery of both babies was vital, but neither were lying in the correct position.
Living in the remote rural town of Suai, Elizita faced a nine-hour journey – on poor quality roads – to reach the medical treatment she desperately needed in Dili. The risk was that neither she nor the unborn twins would survive.
Fortunately, within 90 minutes, MAF’s GA8 Airvan aircraft had left Dili, collected Elizita, a nurse and two family members, and brought them back to the capital for an emergency caesarean operation. The outcome? Two beautiful, healthy babies, delighted parents, and a new family able to return home to Suai a week later. One MAF plane had made the difference between life and death. One plane had helped changed the ending.
Our teams rarely hear anything further from the patients they fly but, in October 2018, Pilot Jonathan Lowe had the happy opportunity to return to Suai and catch up with Elizita and her twin sons, Forino and Farino. The 5½-year-old boys, who have flourished over the years since their difficult birth, got a chance to climb into the plane and see what it’s like to be a pilot, checking out the controls and listening in to the radio.
For Jonathan, it was an amazing experience to see the joyous result of just one of the many medevacs he has flown as an MAF pilot. He said: “I had some time while waiting for my passengers in Suai, so I thought I would to go to the nearby village to see if I could find the twins. It was wonderful to see that they are doing so well and growing up strong and healthy, with the excitement of school ahead of them next year.”
To see how you could be part of changing endings like this, visit www.maf-uk.org/changetheending