The hospital is a hive of activity. A mother cradles her newborn infant, safety delivered just hours before by Dr Justin.  Dr Sylvain makes notes on one of the 29 ultrasounds carried out with the equipment safely transported by MAF plane and a hovercraft.

The team of Malagasy medical staff doctors work to help those who have journeyed up to five hours on foot to seek help. The team make monthly trips to remote villages across Madagascar and the healthcare they dispense is a lifeline for thousands.

The medical safari team boards the MAF aircraft in Madagascar

The one-and-a-half hour MAF flight from the capital would have meant a journey of one-and-a-half days on terrible roads. Instead, the travel time they saved is invested in the struggling people that queue outside for medical care. 

Many are treated during the three-day medical safaris. Patients like Dartania, a young woman from nearby Bemavo who, at just 18 years of age, is undergoing breast cancer surgery to remove a tumour.

Dartania undergoing breast cancer surgery on an MAF medical safari

Mahakito, the father of Bila – the town’s community health worker – has returned for a check-up following a hernia operation three months ago. He has quit smoking and drinking and now looks completely different. He is quickly given the all-clear.

Ouda receives surgery in Madagascar - MAF

A man called Ouda has received surgery for a cyst that had been growing on his right cheek for five years. He comes from a town west of Bemana and sought medical help only recently, after he started to lose sight in his right eye. Deterred from seeking treatment until now, he was ashamed of his condition and concerned about the expense. ‘In remote Madagascar, if you can eat and work, then you hide your illness,’ Ouda explains.

After his operation, Ouda speaks in reassuring tones to his brother who will undergo similar surgery for the cyst on the back of his head.

Ouda and his brother after his surgery on the MAF medical safari

Healthcare is not the only expression of Christian care on offer. The Gospel is shared freely by Malagasy pastors with a heart to see people receive spiritual healing and hope too.

An evangelist provides spiritual care on the MAF medical safari

They minister to patients and their family, listening carefully and speaking God's Word as they are led. In a quiet corner, the pastor discusses Jesus with a woman – taken aback by the strength of her tightly held animistic beliefs

On this trip, the town’s mayor made arrangements to transport equipment and personnel from the airstrip to the town by oxcart and pirogue (a long, narrow canoe), with the River Rover, HoverAid’s hovercraft, on hand to assist.

Overland travel in rural Madagascar - MAF

By the time the weary team pack up to leave, 15 people have received surgery and 155 benefited from expert consultations. The team will be back in three months, flying with MAF into Beroroha airstrip again before continuing their journey overland across Madagascar’s inhospitable terrain.

The services are needed and valued, with a noticeable improvement in the health of the community having already been observed as the number of people attending the clinic begins to fall.

Praise God for these terrific outcomes and the commitment and witness of the Christians who are part of the medical safari.

The medical safari team with the MAF aircraft in Madagascar