MAF ramps up relief efforts in Haiti

Mission Aviation Fellowship is playing a critical role in the international relief response to last week’s devastating earthquake in Haiti.

With three aircraft and a hangar strategically based in Port au Prince, and with vital experience in disaster response, MAF is central to the relief effort.

The powerful earthquake struck Haiti on Tuesday 12 January, measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions injured or displaced in what was Haiti’s strongest earthquake for over 200 years.

Rescue and relief flights

MAF's aircraft are now in action, with a fourth aircraft joining the fleet last weekend. A new Kodiak 100 aircraft was flown from Nampa, Idaho, along with two MAF pilots and two engineers to help with relief flights.

Our flights are bringing desperately-needed relief supplies to outlying towns and returning to Port-au-Prince with stranded international workers who are evacuating the country.

Most of the work will be evacuating the city of Jacmel on the coast south of the capital, which has also been hit hard by the earthquake.

Last Saturday, MAF evacuated an American work team that was stranded in the town on Hinche, 60 miles north of Port-au-Prince. MAF pilots Mark Williams and Will White flew the group to Cap Haitian and helped them find a place to stay before the team departed for the USA.

Other flights have taken 2000 lbs of food to the island of La Gonave. Because the island receives its food supplies weekly from Port au Prince, the 100,000 islanders had been without food for a week.

Co-ordinating amid chaos

Storing and distributing relief supplies at the MAF hangar
MAF is assisting several international aid agencies by coordinating the storage, distribution, and transportation of food, water and medical supplies, as well as tarpaulins and water purification systems.

Our hangar is being used as a logistics centre for tons of essential aid flown in to the international airport from around the world.

The United States Air Force, now in control of the airport, is sending many humanitarian cargo flights to the MAF hangar.

MAF is helping planes refuel and clear cargo through Haitian customs, as well as unload the cargo into the MAF hangar, ready for distribution.

'The air traffic controllers, knowing there is space at the MAF hangar area, have allowed numerous flights to come into this maxed out airport,' explains John Woodberry, MAF Disaster Response Manager.

Vital Partnership

MAF is co-ordinating logistics for Missionary Flights International and other organisations.

John Woodberry describes what this has recently achieved: ‘The last flight of the day was a real blessing. 26 orphans were flown out along with their escorts to meet their new parents tonight. These children were already adopted, but the earthquake stopped the process. The new families are quickly getting down to Fort Peirce to meet their new children. What a blessing to be a small part of loving and serving those with such great needs. Today’s flights brought in 5,000 lbs of cargo and over 78 critical relief workers, doctors, surgeons - so needed - and flew 70 out, including the orphans'

The previous day, with our partner MFI, we flew in 63 surgeons, nurses and doctors along with their medical equipment and supplies.

Logistics and coordination that MAF is providing to the emergency relief effort is crucial to saving lives, especially in these early days following the Haiti earthquake and later as rebuilding beginsJohn Boyd, President of MAF USA

Satellite communications

We have established a reliable communication centre at the Port-au-Prince airport, utilising a GATR inflatable satellite system. This is a critically important high-bandwidth system allowing us and at least 16 other aid agencies to effectively collaborate in bringing relief supplies to the people of Haiti - including Operation Blessing, World Relief, World Concern, Food for the Hungry and Medical Teams International.

One of the groups the GATR is assisting is Instedd which receives text messages from Haitians and aid workers on the streets. These messages are encoded onto electronic maps for UNDAC (the UN Disaster Assistance and Coordination), which then sends relief teams or search and rescue.

The GATR satellite communications system set up by MAF in Port-au-Prince


Our team of 21 staff has been affected by the incident. One local staff member is presumed dead. Daniel, aged 24, was attending a university class as the quake struck, collapsing the tall building.

All others are safe. Non-essential staff and dependents have been withdrawn from Haiti.

A team of key staff members remains to coordinate relief efforts. MAF missionaries’ homes sustained little damage and are housing relief workers from many agencies. Other MAF and relief staff are sleeping on cots in the ministry’s hangar.

Please pray for us as life will not be normal for a very long time.John Munsell, MAF pilot/mechanic based in Haiti

Ongoing support

MAF has been based in Haiti since 1986. This disaster follows the widespread devastation caused by a series of hurricanes in Autumn 2008. With roads cut off and damaged, MAF’s Cessna aircraft flew essential emergency relief supplies to cut-off communities across the country.

John Woodberry asserts, ‘The MAF programme was here before the earthquake and in a strategic place to serve and help those in great need in Jesus’ name.’

Useful links

Photo gallery: Haiti earthquake

Powerful earthquake hits Haiti

Urgent prayer needs for Haiti

Pilot's blog: Jason Krul and family


Mission Aviation Fellowship

Castle Hill Avenue, FOLKESTONE, CT20 2TN UK, Tel: 01303 852 819

Registered Charity Number 1064598 (England & Wales) and SC039107 (Scotland)

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