Thursday, April 21, 2022

Bongolo Hospital

"I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know:
the ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve."

Albert Schweitzer

“God doesn't require us to succeed, he only requires that we try.”
St. Mother Teresa
 
Bongolo Hospital, Gabon.
Bongolo Hospital looks like Africa.
It is neatly nestled into the jungle forest.
Nearby, beneath the jungle canopy, it’s almost dark even during the day.

The hot and humid weather is just what you’d expect on the equator.
It feels like New Orleans and South Florida, complete with explosive thunderstorms.
Gabon’s rainforest is the second largest in the world, behind the Amazon.
The heat really slows me down. I’ve asked my new friends if this is what it’s like all the time.
And they have playfully answered: "No. Only about 80% of the time!” Great. 
 
 

Jungle Critters
Geckos and iguanas dart quickly around almost everywhere. Which is fine with me. They are my friends. They eat insects! Go geckos!
Centipedes of various sizes show up at unexpected times. I’ve been told that the ones with orange feet are the poisonous ones. I’ll take their word for it.
The only snakes I’ve seen so far are dead ones, run over by vehicles on the red-dirt roads.
When they are found alive, the locals set them on fire.
Yellow-Billed egrets gracefully strut and fly around the hospital and the mission compound.
I’ve looked for monkeys but there are none.
I’ve been told that the locals eat them. Is that true? Well, true or not, I’ve not seen any.
 


The Ants go marching! Driver Ants!
The narrow lines of fast-moving driver ants appear and disappear unpredictably.
Those lines have so many ants moving so fast that they look like running streams of water flowing across the roads and grass. There’s no way in the world that I’ll ever bother them. Why?
Because I got a little taste of that. A few days ago, when I was innocently bending over and checking out a group of those ants, suddenly I could feel a few of them crawling up my pant legs. Luckily, I was close to home. I ran upstairs, stripped off my pants and headed for the shower. There I picked them off my legs, one-by-one. Ouch! Mean little buggers! Ants in my pants!
 


Brief History of the Bongolo Mission Station
In 1934, the Christian and Missionary Alliance started the first mission station at Bongolo along the Louetsi River. In 1977, Dr. David Thompson, a 4th generation overseas missionary and a surgeon, arrived and started the expansion of the 20-year-old dispensary into what is now the Bongolo Evangelical Hospital. Today, it is the home of a Christian surgical residency training program under PAACS (Pan African Academy of Christian Surgeons), supported by a 3 General surgeon faculty, an Obstetrician-Gynecologist, and a renowned Ophthalmology program under Dr. Hofman; and a nursing school.
There is a hydroelectric power plant nearby.

A charming custom
Bongolo is a friendly place. One of the nicest things about being on mission is being asked to dinner by the local missionaries. Everyone is always curious about who you are and all the new incoming visitors. And I am just as curious about them. Why are they here? How did they get here? It’s always makes for a good evening. The Bongolo Mission station is very organized about all this. When I arrived, I was actually given a written schedule of where, what time and on which day I was invited to have dinner at the homes of various members of the station. Free food and conversation? Just show me where to go!

The water crisis
The other night one of the water pumps broke down. The result? No water. No water in the faucets. No showers. And no operations. One can’t run the sterilizers, autoclaves or do operations without running water. But even so, I did manage to do an emergency C-Section with their stored-up bottled sterile water during the crisis. The elective OR schedule went down for a single day. Then, we were back in business.

High School French
I should have studied harder. How was I to know that 40+ years in the future I would be working in a mission hospital in a French-speaking country in west Africa? Who knew? One thing is true for sure. The better one can speak the local language, the more effective one is. Most of the local missionaries have been sent to language school in Albertville France before they began their long-term missions here.

The hospital library
The library has a secret. On the bookshelves, I noticed some books that I thought I recognized. I opened them. To my surprise, I found my own name written on the inside jackets!

How did that happen? Then I remembered. It turns out that years ago, I donated some of my own medical books to overseas missions. I put my books into boxes and sent them to a container ship bound for Africa, leaving from Cleveland. I never dreamed that I would ever see them again. And now, here they are. They reside on the bookshelves of the surgical resident library at Bongolo Hospital. How neat is that?

My visit to Lambarene and Dr. Albert Schweitzer’s Hospital
Without my asking, on one of my weekends off, the mission made arrangements for me to visit the site of Dr. Schweitzer's famous hospital in Lambarene. It is a 3-hour drive from Bongolo. Historically, it is impossible to speak of missionary doctors without including the name of the very first and most famous of them all: Dr. Albert Schweitzer. I’ve read many of his biographies and his own writings. He was the first European physician to leave home and come to serve the people of Africa. He built his hospital next to the Ogooue River He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952. He was a world figure during the early 20th century. With great reverence, I walked around the same places where he himself had walked on the original site where he once presided.

The highlight of my day there was when I donated a new book to their historical library:
“Working with Dr. Schweitzer” written by Dr. Louise Jilek-Aall.
She wrote a wonderfully sensitive and personal story about her time working in Lambarene as a young physician. Amazingly, I made friends with Dr. Louise a few years back. Now, I was bringing her story back home to Lambarene in her honor. I think that she would have liked that.
 


Bongolo: A training site for young future African surgeons
The primary reason for my coming to Bongolo was to substitute for 2 wonderful general surgeons (husband and wife: Drs. Zach and Jen O’Connor) who are in charge of the surgical training program here (PAACS: Pan African Academy of Christian Surgeons/ COSECSA: College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa). I helped with teaching the young residents in conferences and guided them though surgical cases. It went well. I loved being part of this wonderful hospital.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Kudjip Nazarene Hospital: A very good place!

“Let your light shine for all the nations to see; for the glory of the Lord is streaming from you.”

Isaiah 60:1

 

 

You can’t get there from here.

Actually, you can get to Kudjip, but it takes a while.

There are no roads to the capital because of the mountains and rough terrain. 

The Kudjip Mission Station sits in a valley between mountains to the north and south.

Mt. Hagen is the nearest town with an airport, 45-minutes to the west.

 

The mountains which make travel so difficult are very beautiful.

The hills are covered with a carpet of green rainforests.

And the tops of the mountains surrounding the mission are decorated each day with a new combination of white clouds.  And when they burn off, even higher mountains are seen behind them.

It’s over a mile high and the weather is pleasantly cool.

You can see the afternoon rain clouds coming in from a long way off.

The tropical skies are expressive and ever-changing.

 


 

Painted metal and concrete

The buildings on the mission station are either painted metal or concrete cinder-block; no brick   anywhere.  Like most mission hospitals, all the staff live nearby on the mission station.

In 1957, the government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) government leased land to the Nazarene Church as a way of keeping 2 hostile tribes apart.  In 1967, the Kudjip Nazarene Hospital was born. 

 


 

 

Kudjip is a very good place.

The hospital is supported by a combination of the generous Church of the Nazarene, the PNG government and building projects through Australian Aid.  4 shipping containers come each year to the hospital through the northeastern port of Lea. Equipment at the hospital is quite good.  Everything is recycled until it wears out.  Cloth drapes and gowns are the standard.

I’m particularly impressed by the hospital staff.  They’re dedicated, hard-working and very good.  There is a special esprit de corps and culture.  Everyone does their part and helps each other.  At 7:30 each morning, the nursing staff have prayer devotionals at their nursing stations.  I don’t see that everywhere.  Kudjip Hospital is a very good place!

 

Kudjip’s missionary children

Despite being rural and somewhat isolated, it doesn’t feel that way.

The Kudjip mission station is the home of a very wonderful group of missionaries: young couples and their many children.  Kudjip’s children create a wonderfully warm atmosphere which brings everyone together.  Besides several full-time schoolteachers, all the parents at some point take a turn at teaching different subjects, including playing basketball or soccer.

The children inspire frequent mission station events.  In November, there was the annual Olympic ‘field day’, when all the children competed in running and throwing events, with admiring parents and non-parents cheering them on.  In December, there was a Christmas pageant complete with cute costumes and small voices reading scripture passages.

On station, there are small playgrounds, which include a grounded small airplane for them to climb on.

 


 

The People and the Market

The Marketplace in the center of Kudjip town at the end of the hospital road is always an active during the day.  There’s plenty going on there every day.  Men and women spread their vegetables and produce on plastic mats on the ground to sell. There are 3 small stores where you can buy carbonated beverages, flour and toiletries.  They all sell the same items.  There’s always a crowd around the row of outdoor dart boards, testing their skill.     Maybe it is a small-town thing, but it is customary to smile and greet people as we pass each other on the streets.  Despite the obvious poverty, I’ve never seen anyone beg for money.

 


 

 

Kira the Cat

Kira the Cat is a ‘group project’ at the mission station.  She was temporarily left behind by a soon to be returning missionary.  She “talks” and “meows” more than any cat I’ve ever seen.  She gets at least one can of tuna from me each day, plus a little bread.  When she’s not on the prowl, she’s got a place to get out of the rain.  I do love cats.

 


 

 

“Watch-Men and Watch-Marys”

Developing world hospitals follow a similar pattern.  All patients have family members staying in the hospital helping to take care of their loved ones.  Malawi calls them “Guardians”.

 

The PNG Medical Community: ‘Everybody knows everybody’

There’s one medical school in PNG.  It follows that the national medical community knows one another well, either by immediate contact or by history.

 

Bush Knives and Betel Nuts

Bush knives are long sword-like agricultural tools used to cut down vegetation.

They are quite common because PNG is an agricultural economy.

They are also the local weapon of choice.  The injuries they cause are devastating.  Both men and women are affected.  Incomplete amputations of the legs or severe hand tendon and nerve injuries are very common.  We call them “chop injuries”.

 

Betel nuts are green and the size of walnuts.  They are sold everywhere in the local markets.  People chew them and then spit out the rest.  There must be something to them, but I’ll never try them.  They are cause cancer of the mouth and tongue. 

 

The medical missionary network

I’ve found that the mission world is a small one.

Every place I’ve been, there’s always someone who knows someone else.

For instance, the Caire family in Kenya knows the Brockington family in Malawi.

The Hodge family in Malawi knows the Crouch family in Papua New Guinea.  Kudjip.

“World Medical Missions’ Physician Post-Graduate program” is very effective in bringing young medical missionaries to overseas missions.  Plus, I’ve run across several graduates from the Family Medicine program in Tulsa, Oklahoma, called “In His Image”. 

Kudjip is a good place and I hope to return someday.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Kamuzu Central Hospital

"Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you." 

-St. Augustine

Kamuzu Central Hospital and the Service Requirement

During the middle of my time here in Nkhoma, I was called to serve for 6 weeks at the Kamuzu Central Hospital (“KCH”) in Malawi’s capital city, Lilongwe. Working there is a requirement for Malawian licensure for all expatriate physicians.

KCH is one of Malawi’s largest free-of-charge public hospitals. It has specialists that most other district hospitals do not have. It is an important training and referral hospital. And KCH is HUGE: over 1000 beds! However, one of the side-effects of being a ‘free hospital’ is the extreme over-crowding, and the waiting and delays. People often wait for weeks in their beds for their needed operations. If one is poor and has no other means, then it’s either waiting at KCH or going back home.

When there are no more beds, people will place their own cushions on the floors in the hallways.

People here put up with a lot. They often will forge on and live with their ailments for as long as they can. They come in for treatment late and their diseases are often in advanced stages when it’s harder to help them. Why is that? Is it poverty? Is it mistrust? Is it the fear of contracting Covid in coming to the hospital? Are they scared to death of coming to the hospital? I really don’t know.

Despite the conditions, I had a great time there. I loved teaching their surgery residents-in-training. Like back home, the African residents are smart, eager to learn and excited to have us teaching them.

I enjoyed the challenges doing my best to help take care of people with big problems in a resource poor hospital. One of my patients even survived an attack by a hippopotamus!

As people, we can do the best we can with our hands and what we know. Beyond that, we’re only as good as the system and the machinery that surrounds us. If the pharmacy doesn’t have the medicines, then we can’t give them. If the Operating room and its team of anesthesiologists, nurses, scrub techs and don’t share a common mission, then people are neglected. If there’s no scanners or if the laboratory can’t do tests, then it’s harder to know what is wrong.

Any act of kindness goes a long way. When people’s needs are great, it feels like the kindness goes further. The same is true back home. When we are sick, we are all poor. And it’s Jesus who is hurting, lying in those beds. We can all be extensions of God’s love in the world by making that love real.

The early AM ride into Lilongwe: fog and smoke

Since Nkhoma and Lilongwe are about 40 miles apart, I had to hire a hospital driver to take me back and forth each day. We left each morning at 06:00. Each trip took an hour each way. Those rides were a great chance to see the local county side. I saw open land with rocky and rolling hills with dotted with scattered rural brick farm houses.

Entering the capital in the early am, the air was not clear. It was a combination of morning fog and smoke from the many small fires that people huddle around for warmth and socializing before the day begins. This was their winter. Temperatures fall down to the 40’s at night and early morning. It doesn’t sound that cold, but it is a bit chilly without central heating.

The daily bicycle parade

Every morning there is a parade of men on bicycles riding along the road to the capital. All the bicycles are weighed down with things to sell. Bicycles are used to move charcoal, potatoes, firewood, goats and whatever else that can be sold. Each bundle of charcoal will fetch ~$8.00 each. That a lot of pedaling for very little.


 

Malawi’s capital: Lilongwe’s skyline and profile

From a distance, Lilongwe is a long expanse of low-lying buildings, mostly 3 stories or less, over rolling hills. The city builds outward rather than upward. There are numerous cellphone towers spread across the entire city. Internet access is surprisingly good!

On Blending in to new places: Bits and Pieces

A medical missionary once advised me about coming to a new place.

“Don’t make any suggestions for 6 months. And don’t try to change anything for at least a year.”

I definitely agree with the spirit of waiting and listening when arriving in new places.

Measuring one’s words carefully. Picking one’s spots. Watching and learning about the local context. Making small daily discoveries: ‘bits and pieces’.

No one can tell you everything there is to know about anywhere during your first few days or weeks.

It takes time to learn why things are as they are. Egotistically blundering into a new situation and trying to force one’s views on everyone, while singing that tune of “this is how we do things back home where I come from” never goes well. Living in the spirit of service and love to God, our patients, and the people I’m working with is the way to go.


 

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Nkhoma CCAP Hospital

 “I believe the Lord helps those who have set out to do great things for His sake

and He never fails those who trust in Him alone…”

St. Teresa of Avila

 

African Killer Bees

Killer Bees in the backyard!

One of the night guards put his flashlight on a giant beehive on one of the backyard trees.  How long had the hive been there?  I didn’t know.  They are quite dangerous.  Pet dogs have been killed by them.  This was a problem bigger than me. I put out the alert by calling members of our small mission community.  A chain reaction began with one person talking to another and soon the hive was gone.

 

 

Guardians

There are no such things as “visiting hours” in developing world hospitals.

A family member, or “guardian” is always required to be at the bedside in the hospital with their loved ones.  They are required to help with physical needs including food and water.  There is no food service. 

 

Guardian Sleep Area

 
Guardian on Cellphone

Medical Stuff:  Changes in my practice

How is it different?  Back home, I’m addicted to CT scans, daily CXRs, and daily lab tests.  Not in these places. There’s no CT scanner.  The patients are poor.  Plus, I’m hesitant to order extra tests that they can’t pay for.  I rely more on the basics: history and physical examination.  Treatment of cancer is often delayed because pathology results can take up to 6 weeks to get back. 

 

“What’s with that?”  I am put in my place.

When I was at Kijabe Hospital in Kenya, I had dinner at the home of Dr. Will Caire, his wife Allison and their 4 children.  The Caires are veteran missionaries with the Christian Health Service Corps.   

I complained to them.  Here I was, a US citizen working in Kenya, while there were many Kenyan physicians working back in the USA.  What’s with that?” I asked.  Dr. Caire stopped, took a breath, and reminded me: “That’s because you’re here for a different reason than they are over there.”  

 

Children's Table
 

I forgot.  Absolutely right!  We’re here for God, trying to do great things for His sake.  And thank God for all the support that is sent our way from people back home.  It couldn’t be done otherwise. 

Everyone has their own unique part to play.

 

Monday, August 2, 2021

Nkhoma

“Go courageously to God along the way He has traced out for you,
steadfastly embracing the means that He offers you.”

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Nkhoma
I’ve now moved south to Malawi. I’m working at the Nkhoma Mission Hospital. The hospital is quite rural. Farms are everywhere. Lots of chickens and goats running freely through the town; cows and donkeys too. They grow maize, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, onions, carrots and tomatoes.
There are monkeys in the trees but there are fewer of them, because there are fewer trees. Monkeys don’t bother me anymore. They really are just “big squirrels”.
The ground is quite rocky and there are lots of hills. When it gets dark, I really need my flashlight.
My iPhone’s light works well.


The Nkhoma Mission Hospital: The “Brick Hospital”
My nickname for Nkhoma hospital is the “Brick Hospital” because brick is all I see. Every building is made of brick. Brick is also the favorite building material in most buildings in town as well as the farm houses. It functions as a District Hospital. It has 250-beds and provides outpatient and inpatient services in surgery, obstetrics, pediatrics and adult medicine.

Nkhoma is located in central Malawi. It’s an hour’s drive east of Lilongwe, the capital. Lake Malawi is another two-hour drive east. Nkhoma is part of the rugged Dedza Mountain Range running north and south in Central Malawi. This is winter and dry season, so things are a bit brown. Besides English, Chichewa is the local language. It commonly spoken in southeastern Africa.


Puppies for sale: on the street! 
Along the roads in Lilongwe, puppies are held up for sale as pets. Cats too.
I’ve been told that it’s illegal but you know how that goes. They are hard to resist. The puppies are so cute! But I have to be realistic. 
 

“Mice-On-A-Stick” for sale: on the street!
I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. On the country roads, children hold up their ‘mice-sticks’ for sale to passing cars. This is yet another food I am not curious about. My kitty-cat back home would love them! Fine. But I am not bringing them home!

Nkhoma Mountain
Nkhoma Mountain throws its massive shadow over Nkhoma town at sunset. The mountain dominates the northern horizon. It’s huge, stark, rocky and beautiful. My daily workout is climbing up the trails that lead to the top. I don’t think that I’ll actually ever actually go to the top. It’s a long way and the last major stretch is so steep that it requires all 4 of our extremities to get there. The last thing I need is to fall off that mountain during an afternoon climb. Still, I keep venturing further, higher and higher.
One of the missionaries put a big white cross on one of the ‘sub-mountain’ peaks, and it is plainly visible for miles around.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Small victories; Promises kept

For we are His handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works which God prepared beforehand, that we should live in them.”
Ephesians 2:10

When I left the AIC Litein Hospital few months ago, I made a couple of promises.

The first promise was a slide projector.
Litein’s educational sessions lacked a projector for presentations. This is something definitely needed in a teaching program. Dr. John Kanye and I agreed that this was a problem. When I left, I put in a deposit into their discretionary fund. The results?
Dr. Kanye bought a large state-of-the art computer screen, into which internet and PowerPoint presentations could be done. Well done, John! Whew! That’s one promise kept!

The second promise was Operating Room equipment.
A good skin grafting handle was needed. When I left Litein, I regretfully had to bring mine with me, because I wasn’t sure that I might need it later on. I made a promise to have the next volunteer coming bring one. Litein also lacked a rigid sigmoidoscope. They really needed one to help treat lower intestinal emergencies (sigmoid volvulus). I also promised that I would find a way to get one to them.



So the bucket brigade began. It’s amazing what you can buy on the internet.
Mackenzie Welde of World Medical Mission got me in touch with Dr. Matthew Schultz, a Family Physician, who was going to Litein from Minnesota. Matthew agreed to carry anything I sent to him.

I also enlisted the help of Cheryl Mitchell RN, the Chief OR Nurse of LIGA International.
Everything made it to Litein! Thank God. Well done, Mackenzie, Matthews, and Cheryl!
 

Whew! That’s two promises kept!

Thursday, May 13, 2021

AIC Kijabe Hospital

 “If I had my life to live over again…

I would have burnt the pink candle that was sculptured like a rose before it melted in storage.”

                                                                                                            Erma Bombeck

 

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

                                                                                                                                                                  Eleanor Roosevelt


Kijabe’s name is Maasai for "Place of the Wind".  And it is!  When the winds blow, you can hear them whistle through the tall trees, which sounds quite wonderful.  The area is surrounded on three sides by a lush forest.  It’s the rainy season now.  It rains nearly every night.  The altitude of 7200 feet keeps the weather cool, even though it’s close to the equator: sweater weather.   Nairobi is about 45 miles to the south east. 

 

The AIC (Africa Inland Church) Kijabe Hospital, the AIC-CURE International Children's Hospital of Kenya, and the Rift Valley Academy all border each other on the hill and escarpment overlooking the beautiful Great Rift Valley.  The view of the valley is quite incredible.   

 


Monkeys on the roof

Monkeys!  They show up at strange times.  They really sort of freak me out.

I am used to seeing monkeys on television and in the zoo.  It’s just that when a herd of them runs across my front lawn or starts climbing my roof; now that’s new and different!  These monkeys are as big as dogs and they move unpredictably fast.  I am slowly getting used to them.  They are harmless really.

Like big squirrels.  I think.  I have been warned to keep my windows closed when I am not at home because the monkeys will enter looking for food!   

 


Baboons in the parking lot!  Baboons coming to your door!

I was on rounds the other day and I was distracted by a group of 3 baboons running around the hospital parking lot.  They didn’t break anything.  It was just… different.  The Great Baboon warning: Lock your front door. They are smart enough to know how to open it!  Well… if the baboons ever show up in my living room, I’m leaving!

 

Everyone who lives here seems pretty blasé about the whole monkey thing.  Generally, the monkeys do keep away from us.  The hospital and the school are surrounded on three sides by a thick tropical forest. There is plenty of habitat space for our animal friends, so who can blame them when they show up on the hospital grounds and everywhere else?

 


Hospital Cats

I am being teased.  I love cats.  There is a little black cat who lives on the hospital campus who looks just like my little black cat back home.  Naturally, I leave bits of sweet bread out for her and all her other cat friends to eat.  So far, I’ve counted about 4 different cats.  They are all quite feral and will not let me get close, but that’s ok.  I love them all anyway.  

 

 

The morning squawk

Every morning at 6 am without fail the Kenyan Pied Crows squawk in great disharmony to greet the morning light.  No alarm clock needed!  One thing about living near the equator is that the sun goes up and goes down at about the same time every day with little variation: 6 am and 6 pm.

 

 

Rift Valley Academy (RVA)

In 1906, missionary to Kenya Charles Hurlburt was faced with a decision many missionaries had to make with their children at that time: either send his children back to England for schooling or give up being a missionary.  His solution to this dilemma was to start a school of his own.  That idea has now grown to be a fully accredited first-world elementary and secondary school for missionary children: ‘Rift Valley Academy’, (K- 12).  It is rich in history.  President Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone of the school’s first building.  It serves over 500 missionary children representing 30 nationalities and 80 mission organizations and churches.  They also accommodate a small number of Kenyan national students and expatriate, non-mission students.   


 

AIC Kijabe Hospital and the CURE Orthopedic Hospital : Two excellent hospitals

The effect of this juxtaposition on Kijabe Hospital has been dramatic.  It has contributed greatly to the

numbers and types of medical missionary specialists who come to work here, including

Pediatric Surgery and Surgical Oncology.  In addition, next to Kijabe is the CURE Orthopedic Hospital.  They have specialists in General and Pediatric Orthopedics, Spine Services and Physiotherapy.  Things are on the move upward.  Kijabe is expanding the Operating Rooms from 9 rooms to 15.  There is a nursing school here too.

The people in Nairobi certainly know how good Kijabe is.  Kijabe has an excellent reputation.  Many will drive the one hour it takes to come here for care and second opinions.  So even though the area around the hospital looks somewhat rural, the types of problems we see here are complex and challenging.  In the surgery clinic we see a great many cancers of the GI tract and breast, often at late stages.  Kijabe has training programs in General Surgery, Internal Medicine and soon, Anesthesia through PAACS (Pan African Academy of Christian Surgeons).  I know I’ve been challenged a few times in the Operating “Theater” here.

 

Nursing

There is a Nursing School at Kijabe.  The ward nursing ratio is one nurse to 8 patients.  In the ICU, the nursing staff has to mix their own IV infusions of pressor agents when they are necessary.

 

A great community

Like many other mission hospitals, the homes of the medical staff are within walking distance.

With the two hospitals and the Rift Valley Academy so close together, there are more housing structures and a bigger community, including school teachers and their students.  One of the charming ways that people socialize here is an invitation to dinner.  It’s been really fun to meet some extremely outstanding people.  And I listen and learn from them.  All their children attend Rift Valley Academy.   I had dinner with one British missionary family with their 3 children who left their mission in Madagascar to specifically come here so that their children could attend a good first-world school.

 

Food

When I get tired of the rice and beans in the hospital restaurant, I’ve been going to a ‘super duka’.

It’s really just a very cramped one-room store with two 15-foot aisles separated in between by a two-sided shelf, stuffed with all sorts of food products: no wasted space!   I also go down the hill and buy fresh vegetables and mangos from a group of older ladies at their food stalls.  At home, I’ve conducted some cooking experiments in the kitchen with a low-level of success. 

 


Southern Hemisphere Stars

On clear nights I’m seeing a whole new group of stars near the southern horizon.  The Southern Cross and the False Cross must be out there somewhere.  One of these nights I’ll be able to positively identify them.

 

Blending In

My goal has been to quietly serve where I see the need.  I am not here to ‘take over’.  That’s not my place and I’m a temporary worker.  I’m here to support those in charge.  I make good natured suggestions during ward and ICU rounds.   I’m always trying to understand first why things are done the way that they are.    Laparoscopic skills are lacking, so I’ve been able to offer something there.  I’ve taken the residents through a few central line placements.  And when I’m ‘on-call’ at night, I help the residents do the emergency cases.  Humble service and support. 

 


Bongolo Hospital

"I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sough...