Mat leads the multi-agency missionary team there and trains, disciples and provides Bible teaching for the leaders of 70 church groups from the surrounding villages. Katy, a GP, is Head of Medicine at the hospital.
Story by Gary Clayton. Photos by LuAnne Cadd, Mark and Kelly Hewes and Patrick Keller.
The family of five regards our Cessna Caravan as the ideal plane to ferry them around. They take regular flights with our Madagascar Mission Run (MMR) and use MAF aircraft to get colleagues to and from Mandritsara every month. Our aircraft transport about 100 visitors or short-termers to the hospital each year.
'Travelling around Madagascar by road is not without risk, so we are very grateful to MAF.’ Mat Linley
According to Mat, ‘If we didn’t have MAF, we’d have some very long road journeys. On a good day, it’s about 24 hours constant driving between Mandritsara and Antananarivo – a distance of about 560 miles. By Caravan, it takes about 75 minutes.
‘It also means that, when we arrive, we are much fresher than if we had been on the road for one or two days. It’s obviously far safer as well. Travelling around Madagascar by road is not without risk, so we are very grateful to MAF.’
Mat is quick to point out that MAF came to Madagascar in the late 1980s – the same time that the vision for the Mandritsara project was born.
‘MAF has been involved from the very beginning. MAF planes flew our people up to Mandritsara, and we even have a photo of an MAF pilot looking at the plan of where the hospital was going to be located. It would have been much harder to develop the project without MAF’s involvement.’
MAF UK media team visited Mandritara Good New Hospital in 2004, when it was still in development, to see the expanding services the hospital offered.
Because Mandritsara is such a remote and difficult-to-access area and the road to the hospital is so bad, transporting medical equipment by road incurs a certain amount of risk. By plane, however, the likelihood of anything getting damaged is dramatically reduced. Travel is not only easier, it is much, much safer.
Most of the hospital’s medical equipment is therefore flown by MAF, along with hospital personnel. Some come from overseas, others are Malagasy Christians. ‘MAF,’ Mat explains, ‘has been a huge help to us all.’
‘The Good News Hospital has the potential for a huge impact.’ Mat Linley
Because Mat, Katy and their children Phoebe, Jonah and Barnaby live on the same site as the hospital, and because Mandritsara is so isolated, there is nowhere the family can reach easily for a short break. Being able to travel with MAF to the capital Antananarivo or to surrounding areas helps them get out more and is greatly appreciated.
Mandritsara, which has a population of around 25,000, is about half the size of Wales. Villagers often walk for three or four days to reach The Good News Hospital, sometimes carrying a sick relative. The hospital has a laboratory and eye department, provides X-rays and ultrasounds, and carries out blood transfusions.
According to Katy, ‘People make the journey because they know that this is the place to go for an operation.’
Doctors and nurses from both the western and the eastern coast refer maternity cases and patients to the hospital for general surgery. The only other medical clinic in the area – one that’s quite small – is about three hours away.
Because of this, Mat says, ‘The Good News Hospital has the potential for a huge impact. For most of the people in the area who need treatment, the hospital is often their last hope. We get people in a very desperate state.’
'For most of the people in the area who need treatment, the hospital is often their last hope. We get people in a very desperate state.' Mat Linley
Part of Mat and Katy’s vision is to see churches established in other districts. ‘We have always worked closely with MAF,’ Mat concludes, ‘and expect to do more of the same – working together to get some of the teams to visit district capitals that are really difficult to reach.
‘Mananara isn’t too far from us, but there’s no road, so you have to walk through the rainforest for three or four days to get there. With MAF it’s just a 25-minute flight.’