Medical Missions to Africa
I have been doing medical missions since 2005 when I first went to Niger with the International Organization for Women and Development. The primary focus of this group is obstetric fistula treatment, patient education, and establishment of a self-sustaining fistula treatment program staffed by the host country. I travelled to Niger annually until 2010 when internal instability made it unsafe to continue. The groupâ€™s efforts were then directed to Rwanda where I have made three trips, most recently with my wife, Dr. Julia Lee, and our two children. You go expecting to give, but what you realize is that you are the one receiving. I have been exposed to and operated on horrendous defects that you never see in the states, and done so with generally substandard equipment.
Medical missions have made me a much better surgeon than I ever would have been otherwise. They also taught me that I am richly blessed and have given me a perspective on life that one does not get unless they experience a level of existence and suffering they have not previously encountered. It truly makes you appreciate the things we take for granted. That maturation is what I wanted my kids to experience as well as to develop a sense of need to serve others.
In addition to Africa I spent two weeks all over India with Betel International, a Christian drug rehab program with facilities throughout the world. They were just getting things up and running in India and I went to help establish medical care and treatment protocols for the residents. The cleanliness and discipline in the treatment homes is a stark and refreshing contrast to the squalor and chaos outside. The homes are almost entirely self-funded through work in farming, furniture export and other activities. The residents truly are given hope and a new lease on life. It likewise was an uplifting experience.
I have put together some slide shows to give you a feel of what goes on with the medical missions. I will continue to add more periodically.