Lobitos Alves

A pregnant woman had to walk four hours just to get to her local clinic, but it was a 15-minute MAF flight that potentially saved her life and her baby.

As baby Francelina sleeps soundly, the little one is blissfully unaware of the difficulty her mother went through when pregnancy complications developed.

Marcia Pereira de Sousa lives in a remote part of Atauro Island, which itself is a 1–3-hour ferry ride from the mainland of Timor-Leste, so even a visit to the nearest clinic meant a walk of around four hours.

A diagnosis of hypertension meant Marcia and her unborn child were potentially at risk, so a MAF medevac was the only safe way to bring them to the capital Dili for treatment.

Marcia Pereira de Sousa arrived in Dili with MAF medevac flight.

“I was not able to give birth during the birth period, and I had lower hypertension. Then, nurses decided that I would be transferred to get further medical assistance at the National Hospital Guido Valadares (HNGV) in Dili,” she said.

“I am very grateful because MAF truly helped us in this critical situation and evacuated us from Atauro to Dili to get special care for myself and the baby in my tummy.


MAF truly helped us... to get special care for myself and the baby in my tummy
Marcia Pereira de Sousa

“I am super proud of MAF team for making a great service and serve isolated people in this nation.”

The 31-year-old mother lives in Macadadi, one of the highest settlements on the southern side of Atauro Island. The remote village has no access to better road infrastructure and electricity.

Even though she was in the later stages of pregnancy, Marcia’s only access to basic health care was to go on foot to reach the island’s only health centre in the main community, on the eastern side of the island.

Marcia with her baby

MAF pilot Lungpinglak Domtta, also known as Ping, flew her from Atauro Island and he could tell the mum’s condition was serious.

“I could see she was in pain, and she managed to walk to the aircraft from the ambulance and lay down on the stretcher,” said Captain Ping.

“It brings me great satisfaction and joy to be able to help people in times of need.

“The sea has been rough for the past few weeks; it would have been a rough experience with that medical condition to be on the boat.

“It took us 15 minutes to get back to Dili from the island.”

Captain Ping Domtta, MAF Pilot

Marcia’s husband Clementino Maria da Silva accompanied her on the January 10 flight from Atauro to Dili

“I’m very grateful to MAF for their extraordinary service to evacuate us and save my wife and baby’s lives during these tough situations,” he said.

The mum stayed at the hospital for almost a week where she gave birth to a girl named Francelina da Silva.

They spent four days with a family in Dili before MAF flew them back to Atauro Island on January 19.

Lobitos Alves
Clementino and Marcia's baby Francelina

“It made my day to hear that she is well and discharged, I believe in a small way, we played a role to make a difference in her life,” said Captain Ping.

Captain Ping said it was the kindness of MAF supporters that made this kind of life-saving help possible for people in isolated communities.

“We are able to do what we do here in this country because of people in the background giving Generously to our medevac project,” he said.

“They may not be present here in person, but indirectly, they are making differences in people’s lives through their support, and I hope they will continue their support, so that in days and years to come, we could hear more similar testimonies from people of differences that a 15-minute flight could make in their lives.”

Author: Lobitos Alves