Maasai Mara, Kenya
Our first day off started briskly at 6:10 am when I arose for hospital discharge rounds. Four patients have high fevers, and we are working them up for malaria. I then had a meeting with veteran missionary Warren Rich, DDS, who just completed 25 years of service but learned yesterday that he cannot return home to North Carolina because he cannot get an American citizenship or visa for his 3 year old daughter. Walking by the new outpatient ENT clinic for an unannounced visit, I was conscripted by the physician’s assistant Isaac to consult on a man with a mass completely blocking his nose. It was a nasolabial cyst, and I was able to remove it in the clinic.
Warren Rich was inspired by an inter-varsity counselor at dental school to use his gifts for God’s glory. After his first half year of private practice, he came to Kijabe for a 6 month tour of duty that extended to a year and a half. He met his wife here and returned to his practice in Wilmington, N.C. for two years. When it became clear that no one was coming to Kijabe to replace him, he returned, and states “It was the best decision I ever made.” Practicing a full scope of dentistry from orthodontics to oral surgery, he knows that his patients would not receive care without him. After 25 years, he has turned over the keys of the practice to his partner, a Kenyan national, leaving a practice that is fully self-sustaining without a current reliance on U.S. donations.
We departed in the morning for our game park drive. After crossing the arid rift valley and some fertile highlands, we turned off the two lane highway onto a narrow road with such severe potholes that we generally drove off road in the dirt. After four hours, we reached the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, named after the Maasai tribe that lives in southern Kenya and the Mara River. The Mara River separates The Maasai Mara in Kenya from the Serengeti in Tanzania, and is known for the biannual wildebeest migration documented in the IMAX film “Africa: The Serengeti”. The wildebeest have just returned to Kenya, as the dry season has reached the Serengeti. Thousands of wildebeest and zebra can be seen across the vast plains.
A leopard was spotted sleeping in a tree. We drove through a herd of elephants and watched a large pride of lions drinking from the river. Two cheetahs stalked a young wildebeest, took off on a sprint, but missed. They retreated after the bulls turned to face them. Dinner and a good night sleep.
Mike Armstrong, MD