Welcome to Timor-Leste

An emergency lifeline

Picture of mountains with caption "Discovery airpass Timor-Leste"


You’ve landed in a country where MAF operates as an air ambulance for some of the poorest people in the world

You’re standing in the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (also known as East Timor), the eastern half of Timor Island. Measuring 5,743 square miles, this country is roughly the size of Northern Ireland, and is one of the smallest and poorest places in Asia. It’s hot, humid and, at times, very, very wet.

When the people gained independence from Indonesia in 2002, 75% of the infrastructure lay in ruin. Most of the capital Dili has been slowly rebuilt with the help of the UN, following many years of violence.

From the cabin, you’ll see a harsh topography of mountains and tropical forest that keeps rural communities isolated from the outside world. Most of the people in these remote villages are extremely poor. Overland journeys along neglected roads or roadless terrain can make long-distance travel almost impossible, and many people lack access to basic healthcare or sanitation. If you’re making a long journey, the only way to travel is with MAF.

Malnutrition, hepatitis and malaria are all major problems, along with a huge fertility rate of approximately five children per woman. Sadly, many mothers are at risk of life-threatening labour complications, or die in childbirth – a tragedy that could so easily be alleviated with improved transport. MAF planes carry out medical emergency flights several times a week.

Operating here since 2007, MAF is now a nationally recognised, life-saving organisation. Today, you can meet aid workers, development specialists, surgeons, doctors and nurses who all depend on MAF flights to reach those in desperate need.

Flights from Dili can reduce an overland trip of an entire day into a journey of under an hour, which can mean the difference between life and death.

Timor-Leste Map

Life expectancy

1 – Wash with clean water

in Ailuli, where MAF’s partnership with WaterAid has helped improve hygiene and sanitation in remote villages. This enables girls such as Francisca to attend school during their periods and limits the spread of deadly diseases.

Smiling lady

2 – Speed from a rural village

to Dili with a critically ill patient. MAF aircraft represent the country’s only medical emergency service.

Medevac patient in the back of a plane

3 – Sign with children

on Atauro Island. MAF flew an audiologist and staff from Agape School for the Deaf to assess children with hearing difficulties and enhance sign language skills to improve children’s education.

Lady having ear inspected

4 – Buy a basket

made by an artisan trained by Empreza Di’ak – one of MAF’s partners. The NGO teaches vocational skills such as weaving, sewing and pottery so local women can earn a living.

Lady making a basket

Title - "Our passengers"

Picture of chicks in a travel crate on a plane with the title - "15,000 chicks"

Throughout March 2018, MAF’s G8 Airvan was working around the clock. Flying sick and injured patients to Dili National Hospital, carrying the President and politicians on official business, and ferrying aid and development staff were some of the ‘normal’ trips carried out by our busy aircraft.

But our most prestigious passengers?

Cargo on a MAF plane

Thanks to a government incentive, a small company has begun importing and selling chickens in the remote region of Oecusse. This basic yet life-saving business is helping rural families fight malnutrition and poverty by enabling them to own chickens.

If you live on £1.50 a day, owning a chicken is a far better way to provide for your family than most other development incentives. Chickens are inexpensive to buy and easy to look after at home, giving many women the opportunity to take responsibility for their care. Protein-rich eggs offer a nutritious source of food, while breeding the hens provides them with valuable extra income.

Staff at the local business say that flying the chicks with MAF significantly increases their survival rate compared to any other form of transport – which means each chick has a greater chance to save lives in the most isolated places.

So, all in all, these fluffy friends are now considered prized travellers – and have become regular commuters on board our life-saving Airvan.

Picture of a medevac with the caption - "As you depart, please pray"

– for the patients flown by MAF in Timor-Leste. Our team assembles packages containing essentials like toiletries, food and clean clothes for them, and we pray that the recipients of these care parcels will be touched by God’s love.

On to your next destination

Continue to your next destination