More than 1 in 25 babies born in Papua New Guinea (PNG) don’t survive their first year.
That statistic has deeply moved several of the MAF wives based in PNG, many of whom are mothers themselves.
In response, they are making maternity packs to give to new mums.
These presents are not always given in isolation to MAF’s main activity in the country; many are handed out to women whose pregnancy complications lead to an MAF medevac flight to a hospital.
Inside the packs are gifts for the new mother which include various hygiene and sanitary items, as well as bottled water and a new shirt. Among the contents for the babies are a vest, hat, blanket, socks and four nappies.
Many of the packs are put together by Clare Woodington, an MAF wife based in Goroka, who found an innovative way to finance the initiative.
in addition to receiving donations from kind supporters in Australia and the UK, she sells handbags that have been made from coffee bean sacks.
Clare makes these packs available to not only MAF staff, but also for New Tribes Mission workers who distribute them during regular visits they make to assist new mothers at Goroka hospital’s labour ward.
MAF pilot Brad Venter is another of the team based at Goroka and he regularly flies in pregnant ladies from remote communities who are experiencing difficulties in delivering their baby.
For many of these women, MAF’s involvement is critical; the mountainous and jungle terrain makes access to emergency medical care extremely challenging.
Whenever Brad is bringing such a patient to Goroka, he lets his wife Michelle know and she prepares a pack to encourage the mother-to-be and let them know that they are being prayed for.
Michelle shares, 'I met this mommy (Matai) and her guardian (sister-in-law, Sisa) in late October. This is her third child and it seems that she has had complications in birth before and so when she started to go into labour they decided to bring her in to Goroka.
'She comes from Pinaro, about a 25-minute flight away but a far more arduous journey overland.
'They arrived at the Goroka MAF base and I met them with the pack and then took them to the hospital. All they had brought with them was two big bilums (bags) of raw peanuts. At the hospital they each gave me a big bunch of peanuts to say thank you! I left them there and never expected to see them again.
'But God had different ideas… about 10 days later I was at the MAF base and spotted a face that I recognised in the crowds waiting around the base – it was Matai and Sisa! I was so excited and the best part was to see the little baby boy!
'He was born on 5 November, but had not yet been given a name. He was too precious all wrapped up and snuggled in a bilum.
'Often we don’t see the end of the picture and this was such a blessing to be able to see the good outcome of a medevac and how MAF had been instrumental in the process!
'I am so grateful to God for allowing me to also have been a part of all of this.'