I got into my own bed well after midnight this morning after a two-week trip to Cameroon and Tanzania. It was a good trip despite the problems in getting to Africa in the first place and then getting around Africa later. I had scheduled the last plane out of Raleigh for JFK on a Saturday but it was delayed twice due to poor visibility at JFK airport. Finally, it was obvious that I would miss the connection for my flight from there to Istanbul. That in turn meant I would miss the mission plane we had arranged on Monday morning and that I would miss the majority of the first day of the faculty development session on Tuesday. After a flight the next day through Brussels and an unexpected rearrangement of my ride in Cameroon, I finally made it 24 hours late after a seven hour drive over rough roads. I dragged into the seminar just as the last of “my” lectures was being given.
The next two days were pleasurable, albeit long. Dr. James D. Smith (a dear friend, Professor Emeritus in the ENT department of the University of Oregon, and the most vibrant octogenarian I know) and I gave two more full-day (from 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM) faculty development seminars at the PAACS program in Mbingo Hospital from March 21 – March 23. The sessions were repeated on three sequential days to allow everyone in the PAACS and Christian International Medicine Specialties program to attend. A total of 43 residents and faculty members attended the sessions in additional to the two presenters. One PAACS graduate, Dr. Ben Malikidogo from nearby Banso Hospital, and several other Samaritan’s Purse Post-Residency physicians from Mbingo attended as well. It was a rigorous schedule but it was enjoyable and educational. I learned a lot from Jim Smith and hope to be involved with other programs like this in the future.
I was also able to use my second suitcase to bring several major surgical textbooks, some mosquito netting for hernia repairs, some instruments and other goodies (total of 70 lbs of stuff for the missionaries.
A dozen people accompanied me back to Douala via a grueling 8-hour van ride Friday, March 24. Jim Smith was going on to Cairo in the wee hours of the Saturday morning and Drs. Jim Brown and Dennis Palmer were taking their wives with them to visit Vellore Hospital in India to see if some resident rotations could be arranged in various specialties for their respective surgical and internal medicine training programs. A few other visitors were also headed home. I was scheduled to fly out Saturday to Kilimanjaro via Nairobi and take a taxi to Arusha, arriving at the home of Dr. Wendy Willmore after midnight on Sunday morning. However, my bad luck was consistent; Kenya Airways cancelled my flight, delayed my arrival 24 hours and I had the pleasure of luxuriating for 24 hours in a ½ star African hotel instead. I used the time wisely, putting a good dent in some work for PAACS that needed to be done.
We also had a great time when all the residents and faculty came to Wendy Willmore’s home for a meal and a discussion of research that is being done at Soddo. Russ White, from Tenwek Hospital, was also there and added comments about their experience.
Instruments: Long-time readers of this newsletter will know that from time to time we ask for help from you to obtain the funds for pediatric bronchoscopes and esophagoscopes – specialized equipment and telescopes for the evaluation of the airways and the esophagus. They have many diagnostic uses but the removal of foreign bodies is the biggest need. Last Saturday, I received this e-mail from Dr. Jason Fader who is an outstanding missionary general surgeon in Burundi. “Yesterday, a 5 year old boy came in to our hospital having difficulty breathing. He had inhaled a piece of corn that was lodged in his right bronchus. The bronchoscope was not yet all unpacked, but I went home, unpacked it and we were able to retrieve the piece of corn from his lung. This is the first of many lives that will be saved with this bronchoscope.” You can see why provision of these scopes is such a passion for us – and thank you for all you have done over the years to help provide them. We are presently helping another hospital in PNG get such a set; they have been able to raise the money themselves as did Jason’s hospital, but we are pleased to facilitate the process and the discounted pricing.
- Tomorrow I fly to Chicago to help with the budgeting process for PAACS. I return late Monday night.
- Thursday, I fly to Rochester, MN to attend the two-day CMDE Commission meeting. As financial officer, Micky will help me with the final financial reports on Tuesday and Wednesday.
- My next overseas trip is to participate as an observer in the annual exams of the West African College in Ibadan, Nigeria. They have also asked me to speak to the examination committee while I am there. I will be leaving the US on April 22 and returning on April 29th.