Flying for a sustainable future

Flying for a sustainable future

Jesus’ teaching about the Kingdom of God is remarkably consistent with the vision of a sustainable future recently adopted by the United Nations (UN)

Covering areas of public life from healthcare provision to decent jobs, and gender equality to climate action, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) overlap with MAF’s belief that every community, however remote, should have the essentials for life.

Most people applaud the UN for adopting such ambitious goals to end extreme poverty by 2030.

However, many Christians also embrace the fact that the SDGs are so consistent with Bible teaching on social justice.

Indeed, the 17 SDGs chime both with Jesus’ compassionate examples and the Old Testament principles found in Deuteronomy 15:11, 1 Chronicles 18:14 and Isaiah 10: 1-2.

The UN defines sustainable development as, ‘meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’

Furthermore, they put MAF’s mission to reach isolated people with help, hope and healing right at the centre of the sustainable development agenda.

No one will be left behind

Alongside the goals, the UN also states, ‘We pledge that no one will be left behind, and we will endeavour to reach the furthest behind first.’

So – in an echo of Matthew 19:30 – ‘many who are last will be first.’

‘If MAF’s partner organisations can’t get to isolated people groups, then the SDGs will never be attained,’ says MAF Development Advisor Alan Robinson.

‘The areas with the highest rates of disability, malaria, maternal mortality – and those most lacking in healthcare, education and equality – are frequently the most remote areas.

‘A major barrier for many NGOs and missions is the lack of safe, reliable travel to provide an effective field presence. MAF’s flight service to hard-to-reach areas is the perfect solution.

'Of course, MAF applies the principle of "leave no one behind" to physical and spiritual poverty, enabling the work of mission organisations, Bible translators and distributors, and local churches across the world.

‘The SDGs tend to have a focus on physical poverty and so – however successful they are – the successes will be temporal. The eternal element of holistic mission is so important.’

Bangladesh – clean water

In Khulna, the third-largest city in Bangladesh, sanitation in many areas consists of latrines and septic tanks. Untreated human waste from these is dumped in waterways, destroying the health of the poorest people.

Not only is sustainable development intrinsic to MAF’s own vision of reaching isolated people, our aircraft also multiply the success of 2,000 partner organisations across all 17 SDGs

In March, MAF flew staff from SNV Netherlands Development Organisation to the south-western city to establish a project that will revolutionise waste management services and vastly reduce contamination of public water resources.

The fastest way SNV staff can reach the region is by MAF’s floatplane. Without us, overland travel from Dhaka to Khulna takes at least eight hours – costing a day’s work. (See key opposite for SDGs 6, 8, 11.)

Madagascar - good health

For ten years, MAF has been flying volunteer doctors and dentists to remote Malagasy communities on mobile medical safaris, following the key

sustainability principle of partnership and co-operation with local authorities.

Recently, a 28-strong mission team visited Anjabetrongo, to provide medical treatment for all ages, health and developmental check-ups for school pupils, and a children’s Bible camp.

As a result, 684 patients were treated for problems including hernias, parasite infections, sexually transmitted diseases, toothache and malaria. (See key above for related SDGs 3, 10, 17.)

South Sudan - zero hunger 

The staff at Medair’s Stabilisation Centre in the remote northern area of Renk save the lives of severely malnourished children daily, thanks to crucial supplies flown in by MAF planes.

Much of the cargo is medical but – as famine’s grip tightens – it has also included F-100 therapeutic milk to treat severe malnutrition among children.

Dangerously thin for his 2½ years, Rashid was vomiting and had diarrhoea when first admitted to the Centre.

But, thanks to nutritional supplements and antibiotics, he lives. (See key above for related SDGs 1, 2, 3.)

Please pray for MAF lifelines worldwide and their embodiment of the Scripture, ‘The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”’ (Matthew 25:40).

Story Joanna Roberts Photos LuAnne Cadd and Diana Gorter/Medair