Recently five advanced practice professionals embarked on an incredible journey to the Masai Mara in Kenya. These providers were greeted with the warmth and hospitality you experience only from the Masai. As they entered the village the people were singing a native welcome song, and immediately our providers were flooded with feelings of gratitude as they prepared for their service.
This medical mission was sponsored by the Making a Difference Foundation in partnership with CompHealth Allied and Me to We. Their service took place at Baraka Hospital in the heart of the Masai Mara. Baraka Hospital and Clinic is quite impressive in terms of its capabilities to perform a wide scope of labs and surgeries. It serves over 50,000 annually and reaches outer communities through mobile health clinics.
Most of these providers had never experienced a medical mission, but all had one listed on their bucket list. One provider confided he had been feeling burned out and seriously considered whether he wanted to continue in medicine. After this experience he realized quitting was not an option. He was astounded by the resilience and gratitude of every patient seen, and the devotion of the local medical professionals.
The most common ailments presenting were back and neck pain, as well as skin conditions. The back and neck pain are caused largely from the water carrying performed by the local women which takes place anywhere between 5-8 times per day. They carry a 50-75-gallon jug on their backs, which is secured by a burlap rope and rests around their head! Talk about neck and back pain for sure!
Every provider was amazed at the patience and gratitude of every patient. Many walked overnight for 8-9 hours just for the chance to see a medical provider from the U.S. For some the process took all day, but there were no complaints. These beautiful people rested under trees, ate their lunches, and mingled with one another while waiting. The providers were amazed by the sense of unity displayed by all.
One medical provider felt helpless as a mother presented her child with cerebral palsy to be examined. This mother had seen the local Kenyan doctors, but she felt surely an American provider had the magic cure for her child. Just like here in the U.S., a mother will do anything to for her baby, and this mother persisted until she was finally pulled away as there was nothing to be done.
Our providers were there to share best practices and treat patients, but they all soon learned the local medical professionals were incredibly skilled and capable. These local professionals’ treatments were more creative and different their resources were limited. In the end their outcomes were just as effective. In speaking with one provider he reflected, “I learned so much, I don’t know if they learned anything from me… I doubt it, but I sure learned a lot.”
All the providers agreed this was a humbling experience, and a moment in time they will cherish forever. A few are planning and hoping to return someday.
We at the Making a Difference Foundation want to ignite that spark of one person making a difference. We believe one person can make a difference. If you or any of your colleagues are interested in medical missions, we want to hear from you!