Read the detailed report below of what we accomplished in our Mission 2012. Read about the challenges we faced, and the rewards of overcoming them.
Report for Kenya Mission:
May 21, 2012-June 27, 2012
Providing medical care in the name of Jesus to the people of Nyakach District in Nyanza, Kenya, the team diagnosed and treated more than 6500 people at 12 clinics in 11 communities
- Discern practical needs of people in the region
- Establish long term partnerships with medical professionals in the US and Kenya
- Deliver valuable pharmaceuticals and medical supplies
- Engage the political infrastructure of Nyakach, Nyanza, and Kenya
- Invest in Phenny Magann’s home community
- Spiritual growth of all team members
Discerning Practical Needs
We scheduled 12 clinics throughout the district to establish a broad frame of reference. The people of Nyakach are striving nobly to escape generations of poverty and oppression. Their greatest practical need is reliable locally controlled supplies of clean water. The preponderance of diseases treated were GI and skin infections traceable to the routine use of contaminated surface water for drinking, cooking, bathing, and laundry.
The people also need effective routine medical care at an affordable cost. On its face, each location contained an adequate clinic structure with adequately trained medical personnel. The morale of clinic workers seemed to be depressed by bureaucratic obstacles as well as inadequate equipment, supplies, and pharmaceuticals. Most clinics seemed under-utilized.
Establishing Medical Partnerships
Dr. Calvin Vermeir, a part-time resident of Sullivan County, served as the medical director for this trip. His training, experience, and personality were ideally suited for the needs of this project. He optimized professional performance in spite of severe practical limitations. In one amazing stretch, after an exhausting day of routine medical practice, he diagnosed and treated more than 60 children in 30 minutes so that we could say “We turned no one away!” The entire team, especially the medical professionals rallied to his leadership. Dr. Vermeir was not in a position to commit to any specific long-term partnership arrangement, but we consider him a permanent friend of EM3 International, and look forward to cooperation as he is able.
Four American nurses joined the team: Tony Phillips, Shirley Moore, Brendan and Heidi Weaver. They pursued their medical tasks enthusiastically, did more (with less) than any nurse should be expected to do, and added immeasurable value to the team—medically, practically, and relationally. We would gladly welcome them on another trip, and believe that they will be able to recommend EM3 International enthusiastically to their peers.
The Mama Project, a medical mission related to MCC, provided pharmaceuticals valued at approximately $250,000 from TEVA Pharmaceuticals. The staff also offered invaluable practical advice, consultation, and support. We see the foundation of a strong partnership developing.
Well over half of the team members were Kenyans: Six of the seven doctors, three of the seven nurses, all four pharmacists, and more than a dozen non-medical support members. Two of the Kenyans are permanent residents of the United States and traveled to Kenya to join the team. The rest of the Kenyans joined the US team in Kenya. The Kenyan medical professionals established a powerful synergy of perspective and practice that multiplied the effectiveness of the team. We strongly expect a long-term partnership to develop, especially among the Kenyan residents.
Delivering Valuable Pharmaceuticals
In addition to the TEVA pharmaceuticals donated by Mama Project, thousands of dollars of medical supplies were donated by churches, organizations, and individuals. The stateside team packed 52 bags with pharmaceuticals and medical supplies. The advance team carried 16 bags on May 21. We have not fully understood the cause, but all 16 bags were confiscated by customs officials at Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi. Phenny and a team of Kenyan bureaucrats worked tirelessly to gain their release. In the end, only one bag with uniforms, clothing and some first-aid supplies was released; the other 15 bags remained in the custody of the Kenyan government when the team returned to the States. Kenyan bureaucrats continue to work for the free delivery of the donations. All officials have been advised that the bags have been blessed by God and the contents must not be sold.
The main team carried 36 bags of pharmaceuticals and supplies, which were detained at Jomo Kenyatta Airport under threat of confiscation, but a political operative was able to gain their release without a bribe. The released pharmaceuticals and supplies were divided equally and carried daily to each of the 12 clinics.
Four Kenyan pharmacists partnered with EM3 International. Two joined the team directly to dispense medicines to patients free of charge. Two provided wholesale pharmaceuticals and supplies paid for by donations. The team purchased approximately $4000 of pharmaceuticals and supplies from the wholesale pharmacists and dispensed them to patients free of charge. One of the wholesale pharmacists eventually joined the team to assist in dispensing medicine.
At the completion of the 12th clinic, all of the remaining pharmaceuticals and supplies were divided and delivered to medical officers with strict instructions to dispense the medicines free of charge.
Engaging Political Infrastructure
The entire project was planned and executed in cooperation with the Kenyan government. Both the Prime Minister of Kenya and the Nyakach Member of Parliament approved and encouraged our mission. This added a political dynamic to our work that we do not usually encounter. At each clinic, we had an opportunity to engage local and regional political leaders in meaningful dialogue concerning the plight of their communities. Although we have not fully developed an integrated strategy, we were able to present tentative recommendations as well.
The Member of Parliament hosted the team generously in his Nyakach home. This provided an opportunity to interact extensively with his family and domestic staff. The Minister himself was generally engaged away from home in various routine duties and crises, but we had ample opportunity to discuss the needs of the people we served on his behalf and explore strategies to serve them more effectively. His cooperation added immense value to the team and to the mission, and our mission added value to his work as a public servant. We have every confidence in his cooperation going forward.
Minor political turf battles detracted from the mission on some occasions, but on the whole, EM3 International enjoyed a pleasant cooperation with the government. The confiscation of nearly 30% of our medicine was a source of disappointment and irritation. Unless the pharmaceuticals are eventually released and dispensed free of charge, it stands as a de facto tax of 29% for the opportunity to serve the people of Kenya as volunteers. By assuming a posture of graceful deference to God’s sovereignty over the Kenyan government, we received an opportunity to display the transparency of our generosity through the opaque adversity of government officials.
Investing in Phenny’s Home
We intend to change the world one heart at a time from house to house, city to city, to the nations. Honoring Phenny’s father and extended family was a critical dimension of this project. The first clinic was held in Nyamarimba, Phenny’s home village. Her 94-year-old father was one patient among 400. The team spent a Sunday of worship, rest, and relationship at his home, where the extended family roasted a goat in our honor. The twelfth and final clinic was held in Nyamarimba again, where her father saw the doctor for a follow up visit. When the remaining medicine was distributed to the medical officers, the Nyamarimba clinic received a double portion. The mission transcended family ties in a way that honors her heritage and connection to the region.
Growing a Spiritual Team
The project challenged each team member spiritually, practically, and professionally. During the first week we meditated on Psalm 3. We learned to talk to God about every problem, focus on the good thing he is doing, trust his power and love, and partner with him in transforming the situation. Every problem solved gave birth to a dozen new problems, but each member left comfort zones behind and rose to the occasion.
We encounter the relational tensions of divergent expectations. We pressed in to communication and broke through to creative alternatives. Every team member filled his own role AND accommodated the struggles of teammates. Together we adapted to new food, new language, new culture, and new medical protocols.
By the eighth clinic, we came to the firm conclusion that 12 clinics in 11 far-flung locations was practically impossible, but as we pressed on, we found assistance in unexpected sources. New members joined the team when we needed them. When key members had to depart, the team stepped up to fill the gaps. During the 9th and 10th clinics we encountered manifest demonic resistance, but the Lord delivered us and used us to deliver others from the power of darkness.
At every point in our preparation, a sense of God’s favor has encouraged us to enlarge our vision and expand our expectations. Even so, the Lord helped us to accomplish every goal in ways that exceeded our expectations. No team member could have accomplished so much alone, and the team could not have accomplished this work without the specific intervention of God’s favor. We are eager to expand the partnership between God’s people in Nyakach, Kenya and the Endless Mountains, USA.