17 August 2015 at 12.31pm was a milestone for humanitarian support in Liberia, as an MAF Cessna Caravan aircraft landed at Spriggs Payne Airport in Monrovia, Liberia. This marked the start of a new programme – one which had taken us over four patient years to establish.
Four years marked by aerial and email surveys, licensing and registration delays, the building of staff houses and, just when all the obstacles seemed to have been overcome, the Ebola crisis!
But now – operating the only humanitarian aircraft in the country – MAF is flying its relief partners to most destinations in less than two hours: speeding help, hope and healing to men, women and children in desperate need of God's love.
Please, will you support the work of our lifelines in countries where road travel is practically impossible?
Why does Liberia need MAF?
Long before Ebola brought Liberia to the world's attention, the horror of civil war had wreaked havoc on an apocalyptic scale. Liberia became synonymous with the phrases 'child soldiers' and 'blood diamonds'. The country was shattered, its people traumatised.
Because of the constant warfare, an entire generation has grown up without adequate healthcare or education. Around 53% of the population is illiterate, and the country suffers from one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world.
Isolation is a grim fact of life for most people. Isolation caused by a terrible road system exacerbated by frequent heavy rains, and also by the stigma of being an Ebola survivor or a refugee from another land.
For humanitarian and mission groups making a difference on the ground, MAF's new flight service can:
- Overcome isolation by providing a lifeline to and from remote areas
- Slash the length of time it takes to reach isolated areas, sometimes by days
- Reduce the risks of travelling on dangerous muddy roads and rivers through dense rainforest
- Open up fresh opportunities to bring medical and community development projects to new areas.
'There are no roads.'
Called by God to leave the USA and set up the Po River Medical Clinic, Steve and Jen Butwill are the very definition of 'isolated missionaries', and one of 80 humanitarian and mission partners MAF can make a real difference to.
Theirs is one of very few clinics in Rivercess County, an area where swamps criss-cross most of the paths and a 'trip' to the nearest hospital is an unwanted adventure. It takes two hours to travel ten miles by motorbike and canoe!
Sometimes, there are no doctors at the hospital.
We are the lowest disadvantaged district of the most disadvantaged county. There are no roads. It doesn't get more difficult than that.
Steve Butwill, Po River Medical Clinic
The Po River Medical Clinic sits inside the Pillar of Fire mission compound.
'Getting a dentist here quickly on an MAF plane from Monrovia means they can be pulling more teeth, rather than stuck on a dirt road,' says Steve a missionary at the clinic. 'We can now plan to have more doctors, nurses and teachers coming in and staying short-term.'
As we look to open more airstrips and build more life-transforming partnerships, we look to you to join us in prayer and in giving. Will you help bring a better future to Liberia?