‘I believed in Jesus because of that ministry’

‘I believed in Jesus because of that ministry’

Senior Communications Officer LuAnne Cadd, who joined the Kilimatinde Safari to Chidudu earlier this year, shares what our flights mean to people in this remote community. Photos: LuAnne Cadd

The village of Chidudu is only a 24-minute flight from Dodoma. But when there’s no road to your village, and you have no money for transport, a hospital in the city is a faraway place.

Flights with medical and evangelistic teams are called ‘safaris’, or ‘trips’ in Swahili. These medical and evangelistic trips to the bush are life-saving in more ways than one.

Finnish Pilot Jarkko Korhonen now flies our Cessna 206 to Dodoma from the MAF base in Arusha every month, bringing teams to a different village each day of the week-long safari.

Kilimatinde Hospital provides a four-to five-person medical team, with the evangelists coming from various churches in Dodoma.

Under the acacia tree

Mama Ruth Kambenga has been part of the evangelistic team since the beginning.

‘There were no people who knew God in this area,’ she remembers. ‘No churches. No dispensary. No doctors or nurses. We decided to come here to help these people get a church, and build this house for the clinic.’

MAF_40299_Kilimatinde-Safari_medical clinic_Tanzania_pregnant_woman_by-LuAnne-Cadd

She points to a small, two-room, mud-brick structure near the large tree, which is barely three by six metres.

The extremely basic structure provides privacy for antenatal examinations and a place to organise the vaccines. All the other activities take place in the open – under the shade of an acacia tree.

Medical work under the shade of an acacia tree in Chidudu, Tanzania. MAF. LuAnne Cadd.

‘Before these safaris, many mamas died, and kids were sick. Many died from zero to five years old. After we came, the number is small. Sickness is low now.’ 

Learning about Jesus

Thirty-eight-year-old Velonika Filipomathias has come to the clinic since the day it started.

‘When MAF started this ministry, there were many, many changes in this area for all the people,’ she says. ‘We have improvement in our health. Also, we didn’t have a place to hear the Word of God, but now even the children know to worship Him. They have a chance to learn about Jesus.’

Velonika, beneficiary of the MAF medical safari at Chidudu, Tanzania. By LuAnne Cadd

Many years ago, Velonika suffered from an illness that caused terrible headaches and stomach pain. One day, the team prayed for her and Velonika became well. ‘It was a big change for me,’ she explains, ‘and I believed in Jesus because of that ministry.’

In 2012, her one-year-old baby boy Emmanuel became seriously ill with malaria the week before MAF was due to arrive. He was immediately flown to Kilimatinde Hospital, but it was too late. In spite of the pain of losing her child, she’s grateful that MAF was able to take him to hospital.

Sharing life

The team of evangelists announces to the crowd under the tree at Chidudu that they will pray with anyone who needs it. A long line immediately forms, and the pastors hear prayer requests and pray.

A few women need deeper counselling, and later sit with Pastor Jonas to tell their story and receive private prayer.

MAF_Kilimatinde-Shade of a Tree-Tanzania-praying. By LuAnne Cadd

Meanwhile, Mama Kambenga teaches the children. They love it as much as she does. The group gathers in the shade of our plane’s wing, within shouting distance of the big tree, where crowds of mothers and babies are being weighed.

Children watch Mama Kambenga with rapt attention, singing with her, and listening to the Bible story told by Peter, a young teenager she’s mentoring.

MAF-Tanzania-teaching children under the shade of an MAF aircraft wing. By LuAnne Cadd

Late in the afternoon, a group of ten young Sukuma men gather around Mama Kambenga in a classic scene of debate. They don’t believe in God.

She suggests they just try attending church, but one man argues that he doesn’t want to leave his cows, wife and children at home.

'In the end, he agreed he would try once,’ Mama Kambenga smiles.

A promise to return

Tomorrow, the bustling scene of life will be replayed as the safari moves on to Dabia and every month after that, many times over.

In a rickety room made of tree branches, a mother will hear from a nurse that her baby’s heartbeat is strong. A child will be brought to the doctor for a check-up under the big tree and attend Sunday School, even though it’s Wednesday, in the shade of a nearby MAF plane wing.

And the MAF aircraft will go and come again – bringing life, and those that minister it – to Chidudu and other remote villages.

Donate to a medical safari in Tanzania

Clinic room made of tree branches. MAF Tanzania. By LuAnne Cadd