Missionary worker forced to flee small African village after rebel fears

Missionary worker Maud Kells in her Moneymore Road home in Ocotber just before she flew out to the Congo.
Missionary worker Maud Kells in her Moneymore Road home in Ocotber just before she flew out to the Congo.

By Patricia Devlin

A MISSIONARY nurse from Cookstown has been dramatically rescued from a small war-torn African village after fears rebel fighters were set to launch an attack on the hospital where she worked.

Maud Kells, 73, was airlifted away from the tiny village of Mulita, in the Democratic Republic of Congo last week after fears for her safety.

As those living in the small area fled into nearby forests to escape, 73 year-old Maud trekked miles to a town close to the village before she was airlifted by rescue pilots.

She is now safe and well 700 miles away in the missionary community of Ibambi, in the northern region of the ravaged country.

“I spoke to Maud this morning (Monday) and she is safe and doing well,” sister Margaret told the Mid-Ulster Mail.

“When she left Mulita she had been suffering from Malaria but she is recovering well and just resting.”

“She is now looking forward to taking part in the 100th anniversary celebrations of CT Studd’s work there, and we expect she will be home sometime next month.”

The dramatic rescue marks the third time the kind hearted humanitarian worker has been evacuated from the Congo since she began her missionary work in 1968.

Since then the WEC International missionary has made over 20 visits to the Congo, staying on occasions up to four years at a time.

When she’s home Maud dedicates her time to travelling the length and breadth of the country raising awareness of the invaluable charity work carried out there.

She has been evacuated twice from the area and has had to rebuild many buildings including her own house there after it was ransacked by rebels who left none of her belongings behind.

The hospital she helped build has also come under frequent attack and much equipment, even Maud’s Land Rover, was stolen at one point.

There are now fears that her current projects there, which includes a number of school and hospital buildings, could be destroyed if rebels invade the village.

Minister of Molesworth Presbyterian Church Rev Tom Greer said: “Now we know that Maud is safe we are just worried that the work there might be damage.”

“If the rebels get in they will steal what they can and then destroy the rest,” he said.

The Cookstown church had been offering up prayers for Maud, who regularly updates the church leaders here on her progress via emails and the use of a satellite phone whilst in Africa.

“There was also great courage shown by the pilots who came in for Maud. There were a few problems caused by the weather and where to land but they did it and got her to safety

“There’s no doubting that Maud is very courageous,” he added. “We are all relieved she is safe and well.”