From our first pilot to a mother trying to keep her child alive in a war zone, we just had to tell you about these 10 women who have inspired us this International Women's Day.
To tell you the truth, we could have picked a lot more, but 10 is a nice round number!
1. Betty Greene, MAF's first ever pilot
Ever since 1945, women have played a vital part of MAF's mission to serve isolated people in Jesus' Name. In fact, our first ever flight was piloted by a woman!
That woman was Betty Greene, as she flew Wycliffe missionaries in Mexico in 1946. Betty had served with MAF in many countries, achieving many 'firsts' in her service as a female pilot. Stuart King considers her to be among the most talented pilots he's ever seen.
2. Becki Dillingham, MAF pilot today
British pilot Becki flies in the beautiful island of Madagascar. But her flights aren't for sightseeing the amazing mountains, rainforests and deserts, but to help bring help, hope and healing to people in desperate poverty and isolation.
A great example of the partnerships she has been involved with is with Mercy Ships. Their doctors have been able to assess the needs not just near where they are docked, but way, way beyond. And patients lacking access to good healthcare can now reach the hospital ship thanks to Becki.
3. Merrill the mountain missionary
MAF pilots always looked forward to visiting Merrill, a missionary with Africa Inland Mission who lives in a remote mountain village in Lesotho. And it wasn't just for the guaranteed cup of coffee.
The most inspiring thing is that she has been sharing the love of Christ with the Basotho people for over 18 years.
What an inspiration! But living in the mountains has taken its toll on her hips, so our pilots wanted to help her out with something special...
4. Irene and Mary, midwives in South Sudan
There are many children called Irene or Mary in Kajo Keji, as they are named after two special people. They've spent the last 2 years training and mentoring students on a midwifery programme - vital in a country which has the world's highest maternal mortality rate and where 3 in 4 births take place without a skilled attendant present.
Irene knows personally what it's like to lose their child, and she's courageously committing her life to help as many mums and newborn babies as possible.
Mary is 'always motivated by helping people at a time when they need it most. As a midwife, I feel fulfilled at the end of a day when I’ve supported a mum through her pregnancy and she’s had a normal, healthy delivery. It brings me the most joy to serve people who are less privileged than me.’
Two selfless and inspiring women!
5. The cargo-carrying women of Long Sule
For years, the women at the remote Indonesian village of Long Sule have been amazing servants. Whenever we land, they are there, willing to carry a plane full of supplies from the airstrip to the village.
They are amazing, so we wanted to say 'thank you' by giving them their first-ever flight. Their expressions of joy and wonder are priceless to us.
6. The MAF women of Papua New Guinea and their extra mile
Expectant mums with labour complications are flown by MAF from remote villages to a hospital at Mount Hagen, Papua New Guinea.
But as they often arrive with nothing but themselves, the MAF women give them another helping hand by creating gift packs of essentials to get their new baby off to a great start in life.
Oh, and a shout out to Mandy Glass who arranged for 80 books to be purchased and delivered to a remote high school in PNG, much to the delight of the students! Read about it in the new Flying for Life magazine.
7. Atrin, refugee mum in South Sudan
Atrin was seven months pregnant and had a two-year-old son when her home village was attacked by a large group of armed men. Her life was turned upside down, but she bravely survived a danger-filled trip to a refugee camp and kept her two special ones safe. Sadly, her husband was killed. She is vulnerable, but brave. MAF flights are helping support Atrin and thousands of displaced people like her.
8. The peace builders of Leyai, Kenya
Inter-tribal conflict remains a daily reality for many in northern Kenya, but the women of Leyai have shown that hope isn’t futile and the possibility of peace is very real.
‘Instead of conflict, let us unite and advocate against the war,’ the Rendille and Borana women sing together, as they knock down decades of conflict and build bridges with this unique peace initiative.
9. Maud Kells, a woman of courage and faith
Being shot by bandits at her home in Democratic Republic of Congo won't stop wonderful Northern Irish missionary and MAF friend Maud Kells from living and serving the people of Mulita!
The community's celebration of her courageous recovery and return shows how much she has meant to those she serves.
10. Aporna Shikder, Bangladesh
Aporna is in many ways an 'ordinary' women in Bangladesh, working hard to feed her two-year-old daughter.
Thanks to a Farmer Nutrition School (a project our floatplane has helped to support), Aprona now has means of a healthy diet and an income by growing vegetables and raising chickens.
Ordinary? Well, yes. But we believe that the 'everyday' woman seizing this initiative and working hard for a better, healthier life for her daughter is to be commended, and someone we're so pleased to have helped make a difference to!