by Craig Anderson, Director of Medical and Health Programs
Hello Medical Ambassadors! I hope you have enjoyed the summer months. We at PCP have been traveling, some of us to Congo, some church visits in the States, some to the ECC Annual Meeting and Triennial events, and squeezing in a few days of vacation. Now that the summer is winding down, at long last we have another update for you regarding Medical Ambassador trips, clinic improvements, and a new CEUM Medical Director.
Unexpected Canceled Trips
At the end of May, I unexpectedly left for Congo by myself. This was not my original plan! Over the past 6 months, I planned to take a group of Medical Ambassadors and several church partners (who are supporting two hospitals) to Congo at the end of May, and another group at the end of July. Unfortunately, visas did not arrive on time and we had to make the decision to cancel the trips at the last minute. The visa delays were due to changes in the processing of visa applications at the Congo Embassy, very much out of our control. Although we were disappointed, we are very grateful to the team for their understanding and patience in this unexpected situation. Also, the country is experiencing some tension amidst uncertainty surrounding elections scheduled for later this year. With a few political protests already and the very real possibility of more, for safety reasons it has been decided to postpone any further trips to Congo until the middle of 2017 or until normalcy returns. This was not a decision made solely for or by PCP, but a collective decision within the Serve Globally team at the Evangelical Covenant Church. This creates a challenge for all our Ambassadors in how to work with our counterparts when trips to Congo are not possible, but this challenge is one we are working on earnestly. For now, in the area of Congo where we work, people are safe and projects continue to progress nicely. Please continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in Congo during this uncertain election season and thank you for your patience and prayers!
Communities and Clinics
Fortunately, I was able to proceed with the June trip with my existing visa in hand. My tour of clinics with the CEUM Medical Director and Marta Klein (ECC missionary physician’s assistant) was like turning lemons into lemonade. We decided to head to the Bogose Nubea region. As we approached the Bodokola clinic, I could see by the number of people that greeted us that their clinic was very important to them. It had caved in one night and they had a new one built in a short amount of time with mud walls, a thatched roof, and dirt floors. Their goal was to continue treatment while they waited for materials for a stronger, longer lasting clinic. Plans are now being made to provide the materials and an experienced contractor to build such a clinic. Bodokola is the type of community we were looking for as we toured some 15 clinics in Bogose Nubea, Karawa, and Wasolo Health Zones. Several of the communities we visited showed great community pride and initiative in setting their communities on the path toward better health care.
New CEUM Medical Director
As of mid-July, the CEUM has appointed a new Medical Director, Dr. Justin Gado Malenda. The CEUM Medical Director overseas all the health care services, staff and facilities that the CEUM manages. Dr. Gado’s wife, Dr. Valerie Bangabutu Bendele, is the director of the Karawa Health Zone. They both live in Karawa and he brings some valuable experience in working with the University of North Carolina on various research projects in the region. This will hopefully be advantageous as PCP looks for innovative ways to create health changes through the testing and learning from Congolese ideas for pilot projects that can make an impact in one area and potentially for all of the region over time.
Please keep your ears tuned to the events in the Congo. Unfortunately, bad news seems more likely to be addressed than good news, so we will keep these updates focused on what the Lord is doing through the CEUM and ways you can keep our brothers and sisters in prayer. Thank you!