Belfast Telegraph

Shot midwife 'being well treated'

A missionary midwife shot in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after receiving an OBE for her work there has been well treated by an international medical team, her sister said.

Maud Kells, 75, from Northern Ireland, was hit once in the shoulder during an armed robbery at her home in Mulita in the north-east of the vast and heavily-forested central African country but suffered no broken bones or irreparable muscle damage, German doctors examining her have reported.

She is able to speak and recognise people, the WEC International Christian aid charity which sent her there said, and doctors are assessing whether to transfer her to a major hospital for further treatment.

Her sister, Margaret Keane, disclosed she was awarded the OBE in the Queen's New Year Honours after building a school with seven classrooms, a hospital and bridge in a country with little infrastructure after years of war.

She added: "She believes it was God calling her, that a light was needed in that part of the country."

Ms Kells is from Cookstown in Co Tyrone and trained as a nurse in Belfast but has been in DRC since 1968, based in the eastern half of the country surrounding Goma, a city previously associated with conflict and rebellion.

She has been evacuated from danger in the past, her minister in Northern Ireland said.

Ms Keane said she was being well attended to by medics.

The humble Bible teacher has previously had to reconstruct many buildings, including her own house after it was ransacked by rebels who left none of her belongings behind, according to reports.

The hospital she helped to build has also come under frequent attack and much equipment - even her precious Land Rover - was stolen at one point.

She was awarded the OBE for services to people in the DRC.

Ms Keane added: "She has made a real difference, it is a completely different life there now."

She has organised the building of a bridge over a river which was once spanned by only a tree trunk, a school with seven classrooms, hospital maternity and surgical wards. A primary school has been named after her.

Her sister added: "That is her life, helping people in Africa.

"She was delighted and humbled at receiving the OBE but she said she was glad for being away from the publicity."

She said the infrastructure was poor in a part of the country affected by war with neighbouring Rwanda, a spill- over from the 1994 genocide, blaming the president for lack of investment.

A guard was kept at the missionary village where she lives and at times of danger people fled into the canopy of trees which covers much of the country.

Despite the challenges Ms Keane said her sister felt God's calling when she first went there.

She explained: "There were only two missionaries at that time but after they retired she said she would go down. She insisted that she would be OK and the Lord was looking after her."

Ms Kells has been involved in the training of Congolese nurses in five hospitals and 30 health centres. She also engages in Bible school teaching, supervision of construction projects and speaking at church services.

She is a member of Molesworth Presbyterian Church in Cookstown.

A spokesman for WEC International said: "She was stable last night, speaking, recognising people, drinking water.

"She has no broken bones, no major muscles hit and her bleeding has stopped."

WEC director in Ireland Norman Cuthbert said the news about Ms Kells was very good, given that she could have been more seriously injured.

"Maud is a very, very strong lady. She has a very strong faith. I am sure Maud will recover, although it has been a very frightening experience for her."

The moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Dr Michael Barry, said he was shocked and saddened.

"Maud is a life-long member of Molesworth Presbyterian Church in Cookstown and has served abroad with WEC International mission agency for an incredible 46 years.

"On behalf of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, I extend my best wishes to Maud and will, like many others in the Presbyterian Church, be praying she makes a speedy recovery from this terrible incident."

A WEC spokesman said a robber or robbers entered her house in Mulita on Sunday night. She disturbed and challenged them and was shot once in the shoulder.

He added: "The bullet didn't lodge, so it must have passed through." She was evacuated by plane to Nyankunde hospital, also in DRC, where she is receiving treatment.

"She needed a blood transfusion, and has a broken rib, but the last we heard she was up and walking. She will be kept at Nyankunde for a few days.

"The British High Commission in Kinshasa is in touch with the situation, and when a representative phoned her she seemed in good spirits, and the doctors are positive in their prognosis for a good recovery."

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