We finished the last of our surgeries for the week today. My partner was Will Porter, a solo otolaryngologist from Fargo, North Dakota. Our patient Hibo is a two year old girl from Somalia with a large cleft lip and palate. While her surgery was uneventful, other patients were cancelled due to more severe craniofacial abnormalities. Two patients were taken to the dental clinic today, and one may become operable in November after orthodontic care.
We finished early enough today to enjoy an outdoor buffet lunch at the Lake Naivasha Hotel and Country Club, followed by a walking tour of Crescent Island. This is the setting where “Out of Africa” was filmed, and it is one of the few animal parks where the safari is enjoyed on foot. Zebras, wildebeest and water bucks grazed on the hotel lawn while we ate. We then travelled to the island in a very small boat, passing hippos and tilapia fishermen. On the island, we saw a 6 day old giraffe with its mother. We also saw two families of dik-diks, the world’s smallest antelope, and two African fishing eagles.
Our minivan driver Elijah shared his testimony on the way to the park. The youngest of 14 children, Elijah became impoverished at a year old when his father became paraplegic. He saw 7 brothers and sisters starve to death. At the age of 18, he set off on foot to find help at Kijabe. After journeying for a month relying solely on his faith and the kindness of strangers, he reached Kijabe only to be stopped at the security gate. The mission compound would admit residents and their guests. Searching the list of admissible names, he miraculously recognized his long lost brother on the list. His brother had also survived and was a student here at Moffat Bible College. He found a job with a missionary family and lived with them until they retired. They taught him to speak English and Swahili, and he was trained as a mechanic. He then worked for twenty years at the hospital. Finally, he learned to drive and started his own touring business. Last year, he became the first person in his family to ever own a home – a two story house overlooking the valley. His daughter is a dentist in Kijabe and one son is an accountant. His other two sons are in graduate school in the U.S. He praises God for these miraculous blessings that have come from such an impossible situation. His crippled father lived for 89 years. His mother died 3 years ago at the age of 108.
Our dinner guest tonight was Dr. Dick Bransford. Trained in general surgery, he entered the mission field full time and has lived in Kijabe since 1974. With no pediatric neurosurgeons in Kenya, he became proficient in surgery for spina bifida and hydrocephalus, operating on hundreds of children per year. He also operates on club foot deformities and burn contractures, even flying out of Kijabe into war torn and unstable countries to the north. He has never turned a patient away for inability to pay, and his non-profit organization Bethany Kids helps fund the $350 to $500 hospital fee for these delicate surgeries. Dick and his wife Millie are retiring next week to their new home in Boone, NC. He leaves behind a legacy of neurosurgery at Kijabe that will continue after his departure. I encourage you to visit www.Bethanykids.com .
After hospital rounds tomorrow, we depart for a two day safari in the Masa Mara National Park, before returning Sunday to admit patients for next week. We all feel very blessed at this time.