Imagine being rushed to hospital in an emergency, far away from family, and then having to make your own way home during a painful recovery.
MAF Timor-Leste’s Closing the Loop project is overcoming those barriers by supporting patients in hospital and flying them home for a joyful reunion.
Teenager Virgilio Magno was flown to the capital by MAF from the regional town Maliana, after suffering a fractured leg. The 15-year-old feared a long, difficult road journey after treatment.
“I am very grateful that MAF still continues to support me, not only in my medical evacuation flight but also by bringing me back to my hometown,” he said.
“MAF’s support really meant a lot for me, and I could not imagine travelling by road with this condition, it would be difficult for my leg, but travelling by plane would be faster and better for my condition.”
Estela Noronha, an assistant coordinator for Closing the Loop in Timor-Leste, explained the importance of this project in helping patients return to isolated places like Atauro Island or the enclave of Oecussi.
“This project is very helpful for Timorese people, especially those patients who are just discharged from the hospital with a surgical operation and need to travel back to their home,” said Mrs Noronha. “Before the project’s establishment, we observed that after the medevac flight, these patients found it difficult to find a way back to their homes.
"Some of them are getting unwell or sick again when they travel back by road and maritime transportation, particularly Oecussi and Atauro patients, but this project helps them overcome their challenge.”
Salomon da Costa said the initiative made a big difference when his wife Eliazefa needed a medevac to Dili due to complications in pregnancy. Although the couple were flown to hospital for her treatment, MAF returned a family of three to Atauro Island after the safe arrival of baby boy Hajam.
“Normally, the only option that we have to return home is by boat but if the weather is not good, we have to stay again on the mainland,” said Mr Costa.
“We are very grateful that MAF is taking the initiative to further help Timorese people overcome their challenge.”
Ruth Hitchins thanked MAF supporters for helping people in Timor-Leste to overcome these barriers of isolation.
“Closing the Loop encompasses all aspects of chaplaincy support we provide for our medevacs, as well as connecting them with the return flight option home,” said Mrs Hitchins.
“Our patients’ and families’ positive feedback could not be more heart-warming and appreciative!
“In supporting this project, you are continuing to provide help, hope, and healing far beyond the initial medical evacuation.”
Author: Lobitos de Jesus Alves