My Grown Up Christmas List (2018)

‘Tis the season…  for our grown-up Christmas list again!  It’s hard to believe that this will be our 5th Christmas since moving to Kenya in June 2014.  Our first Christmas, we did not have a Christmas wish list.  We were still trying to get our minds around our new life… missing “home”… surrounded by an unfamiliar culture… one with so much need… wanting to serve our Kenyan community in sustainable and meaningful ways but not sure yet what that looked like.  But since then, Christmas has become our favorite time of year to be in Kenya.  It is the time of year when we are most able to connect our two “homes” as we connect the giving spirit of our U.S. home to the urgent needs around us in our Kenyan home.  Our wishes have gotten bigger each year, largely because we continue to see God provide above and beyond our expectations.  Each year God has used YOU as a means of His provision to our ministry here at Tenwek Hospital.  Read on for a review of Christmases past and our BIG wish for Christmas present…

Christmas 2015: Compassionate care fund for needy patients, and orphan outreach needs (sustainable tea plantation, food, clothing, and education).  This was the first year that we truly began to experience the joy of being the conduit of your blessings to those in need around us during Christmas giving.  We still support the Surgical Compassionate Care fund through our personal ministry account when patient needs arise (www.wgm.org/missionary/many).  The orphan outreach ministry has become more self-sustaining through farming efforts and local churches.

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Christmas 2015 at Kinduiwo Children’s Home

Christmas 2016: Ultrasound machine. This machine is one of the most useful pieces of equipment that we have. It is literally almost in constant use. We use it for assistance diagnosing life threatening problems in the middle of the night, for guidance with invasive procedures, to evaluate cardiac function in our critically ill patients, as well as many other purposes. It also allows our residents to become highly skilled in performing and interpreting ultrasound. It is really an amazing tool.

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Surgical residents using ultrasound to evaluate a neck mass

Christmas 2017: IV Pumps. Many of you came out big-time to support this project. We were able to purchase 30 IV pumps which have dramatically improved the quality of care in our critical care units and on the obstetrical ward. We can now safely give medications which require precise dosing. Particularly in our critical care units, we have been able to better care for our many patients with septic shock as well as provide IV nutrition that had previously been difficult to do.

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New IV pumps in use for an ICU patient

Christmas 2018: Resident Housing: Our calling to Tenwek Hospital was based on the need for well-trained surgeons in the developing world. Since we have been in Kenya, additional world-wide data has been published suggesting that roughly 5 billion people do not have access to safe, timely, affordable surgery and, not surprisingly, the people most affected by this fact are those in the developing areas such as sub-Saharan Africa. We are privileged to be a part of an amazing program that is training Christian surgeons in rural Africa. Currently we have residency programs in general surgery and orthopedic surgery. Graduates from our general surgery program are all working in East Africa, many of them in mission hospitals. The orthopedic program will graduate their first residents this year. However, we have been given a big opportunity to expand residency level training at Tenwek even further.

At the beginning of 2018, we accepted our first Cardiothoracic fellow into a three-year program. Tenwek is also moving forward with starting an OB/GYN residency program through the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons with a tentative launch date as early as 2020. There is also enthusiasm for starting a neurosurgery residency program in the next few years. All of this is exciting and has the potential to make a big impact on health care in our part of the world. However, we have reached a major road block in our efforts. We have no housing for these trainees and will not be able to advance these programs until suitable housing is built.

Because of our rural setting, suitable housing close to the hospital is not available and therefore the hospital has to provide housing for those working at Tenwek. Currently we have housing to accommodate 23 residents. To begin any new program we need 16 more, but ultimately need about 35 more to allow us fill each of the proposed new programs as well as the existing ones. We have located property for a new apartment building which will house between 10 and 16 new resident trainees. Once this is built, we can then begin these new programs. The estimated budget for the building of this building including all the furnishings is $650,000.

This is a lot of money. However, if you think about it, this investment is a good one… one with long-lasting impact and eternal value!  Our current buildings have allowed for the training and graduation of 12 surgeons with an additional 19 currently in the program who will graduate in the next 5 years. Additional housing will increase this number substantially as well as allow expansion of specialty training for many years to come. Are you willing to invest in equipping the next generation of physicians in East Africa and thus improve healthcare in an area with incredible need?  

This CyberMonday, GivingTuesday, and Christmas season, consider spending money on sharing Christ’s love through medical training and discipleship!  To give, visit Friends of Tenwek donation page here… and choose “Resident Housing Fund” on the drop-down menu.

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Some residents and faculty with a current trainee apartment building in the background

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