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Reform Magazine | April 23, 2024

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Look to the skies - Reform Magazine

Look to the skies

How tragedy was averted, by plane

In 2013, 23-year-old Elizita Cardoso, a young mother in Suai, Timor-Leste (formerly known as East Timor) was looking forward to the arrival of twins. Her feelings of joy turned to fear when she began to show signs of preeclampsia, a life-threatening pregnancy complication, near the end of her pregnancy. The speedy delivery of both babies was vital, but neither were lying in the correct position. 

Suai being a remote rural town, Elizita faced a nine-hour journey on poor quality roads to reach the medical treatment she needed in Dili, the capital city of Timor-Leste, almost 90 miles away. The risk was that neither she nor the unborn twins would survive.

A call went out to the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) team in Timor-Leste. Within 90 minutes, MAF’s GA8 Airvan aircraft had left Dili, collected Elizita, a nurse and two family members from Suai, and brought them back to the capital for an emergency caesarean section. The outcome: two beautiful, healthy babies and delighted parents. The new family were able to return home a week later.

MAF is the world’s largest humanitarian airline, flying more than 2,000 partner organisations to reach people who would otherwise be unreachable – bringing medical care, food, doctors, aid workers, missionaries, disaster relief and community development to some of remotest places on earth. There are millions of people who cannot reach the places where basic medical care, clean water, food or education are available, because the journey would be too dangerous or time-consuming.

MAF teams rarely hear anything further from the patients they fly, but in October 2018, the pilot Jonathan Lowe had the opportunity to return to Suai …

For more information about the work of Mission Aviation Fellowship, visit


This is an extract from an article that was published in the April 2019 edition of Reform

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