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Wings over Darfur

December 2006 | by Emma Stewart

The humanitarian crisis in Darfur has affected millions of people. Many have died through the war and its consequences. Disease and starvation are rife. Since 2003, two million people have fled the region. Many seek refuge in displaced people’s camps in neighbouring Chad; others make their homes elsewhere in Sudan.

Christian relief organisation Safe Harbor is working in the village of Nyinbuli, 100 miles from the border between southern Sudan and the Darfur region. There has been an influx of refugees to this small village.

When 10-year-old Fajah came to the clinic needing extensive treatment, the team called Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) to fly her to hospital.

Fajah is one among many who has suffered through the chaos of the conflict. When she was eight she contracted malaria. She was given an injection at a local clinic in Darfur, but the needle was dirty and she developed osteomyelitis – a bone infection – in her leg.

Fajah’s family had taken her to several clinics for treatment but no one was able to help. Finally they brought her to the Safe Harbor clinic in Nyinbuli. Since the clinic is still in its early stages, and the treatment Fajah needed was extensive, the team knew there was not much they could do.

Prayer answered

They prayed that God would enable them to transport the little girl to the Samaritan’s Purse hospital further south where she could receive the medical care she needed. Their prayers were answered when they contacted MAF and requested help.

Pilot Derek Reeh flew Fajah to hospital, where she spent three weeks receiving treatment. This cleared up the infection and she was able to return to Nyinbuli. The Safe Harbor team supplied her with a shoe lift because the infection had left one leg an inch shorter than the other.

‘We are encouraged by the time we have spent with Fajah and her family. We have also been able to share the love of Jesus with them’, says Charity Lanman from Safe Harbor. The family returned to Darfur for the harvest season but will come back to Nyinbuli in October, where Fajah will receive physiotherapy at the clinic.

Mission Aviation Fellowship was formed in 1945, and is a Christian organisation whose mission is to use light aircraft in developing countries so that people in remote areas can receive the help they need.

With over 130 aircraft flying in more than 30 countries, an MAF plane is taking off or landing every three minutes – bringing physical and spiritual care where flying is not a luxury but a lifeline.

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Sudan