GUEST COLUMN: Finding hope at medical camp

Dawn Reed

A few weeks ago, World Hope held their annual medical clinic at Hope Church in Nairobi, Kenya aided by volunteers from Floyd County, Kentucky, and Orlando, Florida. (Hope Church is on the fringe of the Kawangware slum.) The locals call it “medical camp” and it’s the one time of year most of them are able to see a doctor.

A medical and pharmacy team saw 420 students from World Hope Academy on the first day and filled hundreds of prescriptions.

I had the privilege of doing triage. Each child timidly took a seat. Though most knew English, a volunteer was on hand to translate in Swahili.

I asked their name and told them mine. I was amazed at some of their names, like “Promise” and “Favor.” Though living in the slum, parents had hope for their children’s futures!

My first duty was giving out worm medicine. “I have some medicine for you to take,” I told each one as they obediently held out their hand. It looked harmless, like a vitamin C tablet, but it was awful!

On the first bite, their faces scrunched, some gagged. “It tastes really bad, but it is good for you,” I encouraged. They struggled to get it down. I said, “As soon as you swallow it, you can have a sucker (or, lollipop)! Go ahead and pick out which one you want!” They eagerly chose their treat. Isn’t that how life is? Taking the good with the bad.

I then asked if they were sick or had any pain. Nearly everyone had stomach pain, regularly. I made notes on their papers and they moved to wait in chairs for the doctors.

The students waited for triage, to see the doctor, and then for the pharmacy. Last year, Diana — an, amazing lady from Florida, realized that it would be beneficial to do activities with the kids as they waited. This year, with a handful of energetic helpers, she lined up sticker crafts, coloring sheets and activities to pass the time. She even had them doing “Minute to Win It” games. What joy that brought to the students!

Later in the day, I asked Dr. Kendrick, our Kentucky physician, what they would be able to do for all the stomach aches. “It’s worms,” he sadly informed me - due to living conditions.

In the slum, where they live, clean water is almost non-existent. The main water source is a stream where raw sewage flows continually.

The children had already been treated for their stomach trouble by the time they reached the doctors. How amazing and so very like God! He is at work providing answers before the problem is realized!

This medical camp is a very big deal. Our summer is Kenya’s winter, so many of the kids and adults are sick at this time of year. Cold meds and antibiotics were prescribed for them. But there are other life-altering ways God has used this annual clinic.

This year, Dr. Kendrick saw a teenager he was sure had leukemia. He was sent for further testing at the hospital. Last year, a volunteer at the clinic appeared to have cancer. She, too, was sent for more tests. The diagnosis was confirmed: it was cancer. Hope Church took up donations for her surgery. She was back helping at the clinic this year and is doing well! Two years ago, the principal at the school came to the clinic. Married 10 years, she and her husband longed to have a baby. Nakeesha, our Kentucky PA, found that she had the symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. After insight and instruction, the principal left the clinic hopeful for the first time in a long time.

Her baby is 1-year-old.

God gives us gifts, talents and passions. He can use them, large or small, to make a difference in this dark and hurting world. How can He use you?

Dawn Reed is a newspaper columnist and pastor's wife in Prestonsburg. Reach her at preacherswife7@yahoo.com.

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