The Mildred Smith Mission Health Center
January 4, 2021: The Mildred Smith Mission Health Center officially opened for service. I must admit that over the last 2 years, there have been times when I wondered if I would ever be able to write that. Between the bureaucratic web that entangles every institution, both government and private, and the challenges that the people face in a low resource environment, it has definitely been one of the most challenging things that Judi and I have undertaken in our life. There can be no doubt, however, that we have not been alone in this endeavor. Many people have given their time, talents and resources to make this a reality, but the praise has to go to our Heavenly Father, because it has been His hand that has held us up and brought us through. Time after time, when it looked like there was no way forward, God would answer the prayers with the right person, at the right time, in the right place, with the right decision, and the obstacle would be overcome. It has happened so frequently, that instead of wondering if it was going to be possible, we began just wondering what God was going to do this time! From a facility to work out of, to equipment, to personnel, God has truly blessed us. Let me give you some examples.
We needed to have someone with medical knowledge and experience, as well as a good understanding or the local languages to work with me in the clinic. We interviewed several nurses, and were not able to afford the most qualified ones, but we also were praying that we could find someone with church affiliation that we could hire. It was brought to our attention that there was a young man named Efgo Lawis who was very good with languages (he was one of the team working on the Book of Mormon translation into Kiswahili) who was working as a Clinical Officer in Nairobi. A clinical officer is somewhat like a Physicians Assistant in the US. We contacted him, and found out he had certifications in both Medicine and Surgery, and had worked in refugee camps in Northern Kenya for the Red Cross prior to his current employment. He also had qualified for Medical School, but had only been able to attend for 1 year, because of lack of funds. We could not match his current salary, but then Judi had a brilliant idea. Could we offer him a lower salary, but offer to secure funding for his next year of Medical School? Efgo was thrilled to have the opportunity, and so he agreed. That left us with only lacking the $6,000 dollars to pay for his next year of school. We hoped to be able to find donors who would support his education, but did not know where the money would come from- until God moved and the funds were there within the month! He has been invaluable to getting the clinic set up with the pharmaceuticals we need, helping me know what treatments are testing are available, and in navigating the local culture in business dealings! We are going to sorely miss him when he returns to his studies in the September, but trust the Lord will provide an amazing successor, and continue to provide for Efgo as he completes his medical training.
We needed to get a receptionist, or thought we did. We found that what was required was for us to have a Health Records Information Officer. So we put out the word for applicants. Several people applied, and it was definitely a matter for our prayers that we find the right person. There was one applicant that particularly stood out, but she had less experience than another, so we initially went with the more experienced applicant. We sent her our offer, only to find that, after several years of not being able to find a job, she had just been offered a teaching position in Nairobi to train other HIRO’s, so the one who had stood out throughout the application process was our choice. She was a little confused to have been sent a letter thanking her for her application one day, and then within 12 hours getting an offer to work with us, but she was happy to come on board. Her name is Brendah Okoth, and she had applied after a friend had texted her that there was “a new clinic in town”. She has been the perfect person for the job, compassionate and caring as the first person to get our clients, but we also found out that she had actually worked in a pharmacy before, so she was able to help us set up the “in house” pharmacy to serve our patients!
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