If you are a church or religious organisation who would like to share more stories and images about the work of MAF, then in this section you can find ready-written material, prepared by the MAF UK News team, for you to download and use.
Our quarterly Prayer Diary includes daily prayer needs, photos and themed scriptures to equip you in intercession. As an extra bonus, the Prayer Diary comes with our Flying for Life Magazine - full of up to date stories from the countries in which we serve.
Bridget Ingham has been a Pilot with MAF since 2017, and many of her flights in PNG have been medical evacuations. One recent flight impacted her deeply; and the malaria patient Bridget met was suffering from symptoms which went beyond a physical diagnosis. Bridget recalls the flight, which took place in January 2023.
MAF Pilot Bridget Ingham met a medevac patient in January 2023 who was suffering both the effects of malaria and the tragedy of sexual assault. Credit: Mandy Glass.
As I prepared the stretcher for our medevac patient who was showing symptoms of malaria, I overheard snippets of the story. She was a young girl. She had been suffering a fever and vomiting for many weeks. If she dies – her family would kill…
The reality sunk in as *Esther was carried and laid on the stretcher next to our aircraft. I crouched down next to her to try and reassure her ahead of the flight. Eyes full of emptiness looked back at me. Would she ever smile again after what had happened to her? Would this flight to hospital only add to her nightmares?
I learned that she had been raped at night, some time ago. The men were not from this village. Two of the perpetrators had been caught and were being held in custody, but two others were still on the run.
As I looked back at Esther lying on the stretcher, I could not fathom how anyone could do such a thing to an innocent child. She kept staring blankly into space.
I turned to her parents. ‘Mi sori tru’ (‘I’m really sorry’), I said. I didn’t have the words to say how heartbroken I was for her, and for them. All I could do was hope that they knew.
Her father was furious and wanted to take matters into his own hands. Reporting the incident to local community leaders, they called MAF to bring Esther to the hospital for assessment and treatment.
‘I crouched down next to her to try and reassure her ahead of the flight. Eyes full of emptiness looked back at me.’
MAF pilot Bridget Ingham
Malaumanda has a community of roughly 400 people living around the airstrip, with a few hundred more living 30-60 minutes’ walk away deep in the forest.
MAF’s flight from Malaumanda in northern PNG to Kompiam District Hospital took 30 minutes but saved Esther and her family days of trekking through the bush to access medical care.
When the details were later released from the hospital, it emerged that Esther had struggled to speak out about the rape for fear of punishment.
‘She arrived at the hospital barely conscious and was brought in on a stretcher. We diagnosed Esther with malaria and started prompt IV treatment as well as IV fluids.’
Residential Medical Officer, Kompiam District Hospital
The report read:
‘Esther is a Grade 2 student in the local village. According to her parents, she has been unwell for about three months, with intermittent episodes of vomiting, fevers, a poor appetite, and general weakness.
‘She arrived at the hospital barely conscious and was brought in on a stretcher. We diagnosed Esther with malaria and started prompt IV treatment as well as IV fluids. Thankfully she made a quick response to the antimalarial treatment. However, she hadn’t told her parents about an incident for fear of being punished or beaten.
‘One day, whilst walking to the garden with her older sister, she fainted. After persistent questioning, Esther finally admitted that she had been assaulted by two ‘wantoks’ (male relatives) who had been living with them. By now, they were no longer under the same roof.
‘Due to the late presentation, evidence of her attack will be difficult to attain, and a physical examination would likely cause psychological stress without yielding useful findings.’
Kompiam Rural Hospital is situated deep in the remote north of PNG. MAF’s partnership has enabled solar-generated electricity to power the 80-bed facility 24-hours every day. Credit: Mandy Glass
Once she is discharged, Esther’s parents plan to bring their case to the police with the support of the community. But the Superintendent of the Kompiam Hospital told me it is unlikely the girl will get justice.
She said, “With the village being so far away, it is very likely the issue will get resolved with either compensation or revenge. There will be no true justice for this child. I suppose ultimately, only God can bring that. It is a very sad story.”
For many survivors like Esther, shame and fear will cover up a lot of these crimes, not only in the remote villages of PNG, but worldwide. While Esther’s life may have been saved by MAF’s medevac and her immediate malaria treatment, her scars will remain forever.
*Esther is a rape survivor – one of 1.5 million women and girls who experience gender-based violence every year in PNG. Her name has been changed to protect her identity.
MAF is partnering with the PNG Tribal Foundation to take a new campaign Senisim Pasin (Change your Way) to remote villages, and Esther’s is one of six which have already seen a locally produced documentary about equality, peace, and non-violence towards women.
Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) is the world’s largest humanitarian air operator. For over 75 years we have been flying light aircraft over jungles, mountains, swamps and deserts. We enable more than 2,000 aid, development and mission organisations to bring medical care, emergency relief and long-term development. Our pilots and personnel deliver relief workers, doctors, pastors, school books, food, medicines - everything that can only be safely and speedily delivered by air. Our faithful supporters give and pray to make this all possible.