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Meet Kirstein Combrink

Picture of pilot Kirstein Combrink


In the cabin, South African Pilot Kirstein Combrink tells of a couple of MAF flights which give two babies their best possible chance in life 

My first flight is to a clinic at Endanyawish, which takes place in a small concrete church just 50 metres from the airstrip. The landscape is dry and dusty, and the airstrip parallels a mountain ridge with a small marshy lake close by. The landing is tricky, with winds that must be taken seriously. But the flight is well worth the complexity and concentration.

This is the smallest location on MAF’s Haydom Medical Safari – one of many rural communities which otherwise wouldn’t have access to healthcare. Before it all begins, Nurse Maria talks to women waiting outside about health and family planning. A pastor speaks and prays.

Inside the church, Rehema holds Veronica – a healthy-looking, six-month-old baby. She has brought her baby for vaccination, leaving home at 6am to be here for the clinic’s opening five hours later. Most of us wouldn’t get in a car and drive five hours for an immunisation let alone walk. But these mothers know it could save their baby’s life.

What MAF is doing here is sustaining this community and helping people have a better life. This clinic will have a lasting impact on the survival of many children and will help women have safe deliveries. It’s a calling in Christ and there is so much value in continuing this vital work.


‘Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn and live in harmony with one another.’ Romans 12:15-16


The second flight is just as challenging, but for different reasons, and takes place at Matala, another stop on our Haydom Medical Safari. Just as we are about to start the plane, I see a messenger approaching on a motorbike. There’s clearly a problem, and I call on the nurses to translate.

Soon a mother arrives at the plane with a baby born during the night at 24 weeks – the smallest passenger I’ve ever flown.

Landing in Haydom, I hold the small bundle and can hardly feel the baby’s weight. But movement confirms there is still a life in my hands.

At the end of my flying day I find the premature baby in the neonatal unit weighing just 700 grammes. She has a worryingly low pulse and oxygen levels, but is in the best possible care. All we can do is pray.

Over the next few weeks, we keep updated with her progress. When my phone rings one Monday morning and I hear a nurse from Haydom Hospital, my heart is hopeful. But sadly, the caller tells me the little girl has passed away.

It’s hard to understand why she had such a short life. But it’s safe to say that, like Veronica, I was able to give my youngest passenger the best possible chance of survival. And MAF showed a mother, family and wider community that they are invaluable to us and their Heavenly Father.

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