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Conjoined twins survive ‘miracle birth’ and separation in the heart of Africa

Mission Aviation Fellowship plays a key role

Left: The conjoined twins before surgery. Right: Their parents hold the twins after successful surgery to separate them. Photos by Jaclyn Reierson, MAF.

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of the Congo — Oct. 16, 2017— A pair of conjoined twins, who against all odds were born naturally in the remote village of Muzombo, western Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), have survived following an epic 870-mile round trip to be separated.

Anick and Destin, two baby girls who were born naturally at 37 weeks on August 23, 2017, endured an incredible journey across gruelling terrain, and are now being monitored at Vanga Evangelical Hospital, under the care of Dr. Junior Mudji.

Dr. Mudji first met the twins on August 30 when they arrived at Vanga Hospital with their mother Claudine Mukhena and father Zaiko Munzadi at just one week old. The family had travelled for 15 hours through the jungle on the back of a motorcycle, the twins wrapped in a blanket. Their village is so remote hospital staff hadn’t even heard of it.

Seperated Twins

Without the equipment or expertise to carry out the complex separation surgery in Vanga’s small hospital, Dr. Mudji contacted a team of volunteer surgeons in the country’s capital, Kinshasa, who perform operations on children born with deformities.

Concerned that the fragile newborns would not survive another long and difficult journey, Dr. Mudji’s team contacted Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), a non-profit Christian aviation organization operating in remote regions of the world, including the DRC. MAF regularly flies to Vanga, delivering medical equipment and personnel to the hospital using small Cessna and Pilatus aircraft that are designed to land and take off in very remote and challenging terrain. Dr. Mudji was delighted to learn that MAF could provide an emergency flight for the family.

“When we landed in Vanga on September 2, about 200 people were waiting at the airstrip, swarming around the mom with the babies in her arms,” said MAF pilot Brett Reierson. “The doctor was leading her toward the airplane while people crowded around her, calling out, shouting, and trying to take pictures. We got her into the plane as quickly as possible!”

The 1.5-hour journey to Kinshasa aboard the airplane saved the family more than 14 hours on treacherous roads. When they arrived in the capital, a medic collected the patients from the aircraft and rushed them to a Kinshasa clinic where a successful separation surgery was performed by a team of volunteer surgeons.

Almost one month later, MAF Pilot Nick Frey flew the family back to Vanga, and the twins and mother were re-admitted to Vanga Hospital on Saturday, October 7. The family will be monitored for several weeks before facing the gruelling overland journey back to their remote village.

Dr. Mudji, who is delighted the babies have survived said, “Thirty-seven-week-old, conjoined twins born naturally - it’s unheard of! When I was told MAF could help… it was great news for us.” The twins were joined at the naval and shared some intestines.

Pilot Brett Reierson said, “The natural delivery of conjoined twins would be rare enough in a Western hospital. But for a mom and her babies to survive this type of birth in such a remote setting, and then the long and difficult journey across the jungle to be separated – it’s unbelievable! It was a privilege to be part of their story and see yet another example of how God is using MAF to bring hope to the most remote places of the DRC.”

Mission Aviation Fellowship—a global family of organizations—operates a fleet of some 130 airplanes across Africa, Asia, Eurasia, and Latin America. Since 1945, MAF has enabled the work of churches, relief organizations, missionaries, medical teams, development agencies, and others working to share God’s love and make life better for those who live in the most isolated parts of the world. In recent years, MAF has responded to disasters in Haiti following Hurricane Matthew, in Nepal following two deadly earthquakes in 2015, and in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

Hurricane Maria Leaves Destruction Across The Caribbean, Mission Aviation Fellowship Providing Assistance

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua – Sept. 21, 2017

Hurricane Maria has ripped apart homes and caused destruction across Dominica, Barbuda, and other islands already reeling from the effects of Hurricane Irma earlier this month. As families in the Caribbean struggle to recover, Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) has staff on the ground and in the air providing assistance.

“MAF is working with Samaritan’s Purse (SP) to survey the needs and bring help to the islands that have been torn apart by hurricanes Maria and Irma,” said John Woodberry, global manager of disaster response for MAF.

“On Wednesday we flew an MAF airplane to Dominica and so much there has been destroyed. About 75 percent of the houses are missing roofs. Dominica has mountains and rivers which caused horrendous flash flooding as Hurricane Maria passed over, so I saw warehouses that were just obliterated,” Woodberry said. “People were pulling things out of the rubble. Everything is chaotic.”

At the airport in Dominica, the team met Roosevelt Skerrit, the prime minister of Dominica, who asked for assistance for his country at this critical time.

Mission Aviation Fellowship is a Christian mission and aid organization that uses airplanes and other technologies to reach the most isolated places of the world with God’s love. Disaster response is one of MAF’s areas of expertise. In times of crisis, the organization’s experienced personnel provide air transportation, communication systems, and logistics support so that disaster response teams can effectively aid the suffering.

MAF staff have been providing logistics support at a staging area established by SP in Puerto Rico. A second MAF team had been working out of Sint Maarten with an airplane to provide aerial surveys of hurricane damage from Hurricane Irma and meet other needs. Following Hurricane Maria, that team Wednesday moved its base to Antigua and Thursday completed an aerial survey of damage to Barbuda, and worked on repairing generators in Barbuda.

According to Woodberry, a crew from SP is expected to arrive in Dominica with relief supplies within the next day or so, though much is in flux. SP will provide tarps for shelter, as well as food, water purification units, hygiene kits, and other supplies.

MAF is also planning to deploy a GATR satellite communication system to Dominica to help get communications up and running on the island.

Mission Aviation Fellowship—a global family of organizations—operates a fleet of some 130 airplanes across Africa, Asia, Eurasia, and Latin America. Since 1945, MAF has enabled the work of churches, relief organizations, missionaries, medical teams, development agencies, and others working to share God’s love and make life better for those who live in the most isolated parts of the world. In recent years, MAF has responded to disasters in Haiti following Hurricane Matthew, in Nepal following two deadly earthquakes in 2015, and in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

Photos by John Woodberry.

MAF Disaster Response Personnel At Work In St. Maarten

St. Maarten – Sept. 13, 2017

MAF disaster response staff are on the ground in St. Maarten, an island nation in the Caribbean that has been devastated by Hurricane Irma. They are assessing the situation to determine how MAF can use its aviation and communication services to best help those in need. An airplane from MAF-Suriname is headed to St. Maarten to join the relief efforts aiding islands in the area.

Photos by John Woodberry.

MAF’s John Boyd Awarded Honorary Doctorate from NNU

NAMPA, Idaho – Sept. 13, 2017

John Boyd

NAMPA, Idaho – John Boyd, president and CEO of Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), has been honored with a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, from Northwest Nazarene University (NNU) for his life of service to others. Boyd received the degree Wednesday, Sept. 13, in a ceremony at NNU’s Brandt Center.

“Compassion doesn’t happen just in ministry, but anywhere people are responsive to God's plan. In John Boyd’s case, God interrupted his corporate life and set him on a path of service and a path of compassion toward the lost and isolated,” said Joel Pearsall, president of NNU. “John's service to, and leadership of, Mission Aviation Fellowship reflects his faithfulness to God’s call. In conferring this degree, NNU recognizes this faithfulness, service and compassion. With this degree, we are proud to make John one of our alumni and to claim him as one of our own.”

MAF-US is a non-profit Christian ministry organization that operates in 17 countries of Africa, Asia, Eurasia, and Latin America with a fleet of 51 aircraft. MAF provides aviation and technology services so that missionaries, development agencies, medical teams, churches, and disaster response organizations can work in the most remote parts of the world. MAF also provides emergency medical evacuations and disaster response assistance.

Boyd was born in Scotland and raised in Rhodesia—the country now known as Zimbabwe. After a successful corporate career, Boyd put his pilot skills to work by joining MAF as a missionary pilot. Boyd and his family served in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, and Lesotho.

In 2000, Boyd was appointed chief executive officer of MAF-South Africa. Three years later, Boyd and his family moved to the MAF-US headquarters, where he served as vice president of Ministry Advancement. In January 2008, the board of directors of MAF-US appointed Boyd as its president and CEO.

For Boyd, a key focus has been following Christ’s example of demonstration and proclamation.

“Not only did Jesus preach, he also healed the sick and reached out to the hurting, showing his love in tangible ways. And we are called to ‘go and do likewise,’” Boyd said. That is why MAF supports not just Christian organizations, but other groups working to make life better for isolated people.

Under Boyd’s leadership, MAF has upgraded its fleet, replacing many of the smaller aircraft with KODIAKs, a larger and more efficient plane. The organization also began expanding its Nampa campus to better support training and build stronger community among its missionary staff who often stay on-site. MAF has also been a key player in numerous disaster response efforts, including the Haiti earthquake response in 2010, Nepal earthquake response in 2015, and Hurricane Matthew response in 2016.

According to Dr. Eric Kellerer, director of NNU’s Doceō Center, “John has given all of his energy and all of his time to one passion—reaching the most remote people on planet earth with love and compassion. The full impact he has had on the very poorest people in the world may never be known in our lifetime.”

Northwest Nazarene University, a Christian comprehensive university, offers more than 60 areas of study, 18 master's degrees in seven different disciplines and two doctoral degrees. In addition to its 90-acre campus located in Nampa, Idaho, the university offers programs online as well as in Idaho Falls and in cooperation with programs in 35 countries. Founded in 1913, the University serves over 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students, more than 6,000 continuing education students and over 2,000 high school students through the concurrent credit program.

Following Hurricane Irma, MAF Conducts Survey Flight in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Sept. 8, 2017

This morning the MAF team in Haiti completed an aerial survey over the northern part of the country, which was hardest hit by Hurricane Irma. Although they observed water in some fields and other places it shouldn’t have been, the team saw little damage.

John Munsell, acting program manager for MAF in Haiti, said, “I have lived and flown in Haiti for 20 years and have completed many survey flights over this area, so I feel that I know this area well. In my opinion, the condition of these areas is what I would expect after a heavy rain. In all of our flying, I didn't see any trees down, roofs off, or major roads blocked.”

An MAF pilot shared, “I was part of the assessment flight following Hurricane Matthew [in 2016], and I was grateful to see the stark contrast between the damage from the two storms. Though some places saw flooding, it was localized and the waters have quickly receded. All roads appeared to be open to traffic and houses have their roofs intact. The seas along the northern coast were still violent from Cap Haitian westward, but to the east, had calmed.”

The photos from the aerial survey are being geo-tagged and shared with other NGOs so that they might use them in their own relief efforts.

Please join us in praising God for Haiti’s protection from this storm, and pray for those in Irma’s path as the hurricane moves north. As Hurricane Jose blows into the region, pray that the many islands and people in the Caribbean may be spared further harm.

MAF in the News

Here are featured articles and videos reported by outside news organizations giving their perspective on the worldwide impact of Mission Aviation Fellowship.



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