The inspiring Cookstown pensioner who has spent much of her adult life working in DR Congo is about to head off on her last trip to the country.
Maud Kells, a midwife and a missionary, has spent over 40 years building a hospital, maternity ward, nursery and a school in the rural Mulita area.
And despite an almost fatal attack when she was shot by bandits there in January 2015, she has since returned – determined to finish what she started all those years ago.
Although feeling emotional about her last trip, Maud said that, at 77, she thinks “it’s time” to hand over the various projects she has worked on down through the years.
“This will probably be my last time going out and I’m only going out for two months,” she told the Mid Ulster Mail.
“I’m hoping to get the nursery completed and just hand over various aspects of the work to various leaders. It will not be easy saying goodbye to everybody, but you have to draw a line somewhere.”
Looking back on the work she has done there, Maud said what stands out most is the difference she was able to make in terms of midwifery.
“Before I went there, women were dying in childbirth or they had to go a long distance – 30 miles by foot or on a bicycle – which was just impossible,” she explained.
“They died or the babies died, so it’s just wonderful that we have been able to help them and other patients as well.
“Also the children are having proper schooling now. There were lots of children there that had no means of school. It’s wonderful just to see it all set up. I just pray that will continue.”
In order for it to do so, Maud said she is hoping for an answer from the country’s education minister on whether the little school will be “accredited so the teachers will get a subsidised salary from the government” and the children can continue to learn.
As for what she will do when she returns for her first Christmas in Cookstown in 20 years, she said: “There’s plenty still to do.
“I’ve got a lot of meetings planned for next year.”