One thing that I do not like doing is asking for things for myself. I don’t know if my independence is a weakness or a strength. There may be a time when I ask for support for me, but right now I NEED nothing. I have funding for the next one and a half years. If I end up staying longer then I will be sending another email begging for money. In my spare time I have been looking for money trees, but they don’t seem to grow here either. I have more than most of the Ethiopians, so I want to tell you about some ways to help them.
I would love to just send you a list… 10 thermometers, 5 scissors, 8 blood pressure cuffs, but it isn’t that easy. The hospitals buy things and then they somehow disappear. The patient wanted soap to wash her infected incision… the nurse wants a thermometer for her sick child at home… the patient’s family can sell a trash can to pay for medications or food… It is incredibly difficult to know what will truly help people. Is anything sustainable? What will not beget dependence, but independence? And then where should the resources go? To education? Immediate relief? Orphans? Widows? The elderly?
Here is a list of different ways to help and what each one is for.
Benevolence Fund. This fund is used for emergencies by the poor patients. A committee of Ethiopians interview the patients and request letters from their neighborhood government in an attempt to make sure the funds are used by people who really need them. To give you an idea of costs for things. A regular birth is about $40, a c-section about $100, a major surgery about $200. It doesn’t sound like much to us, but the average annual income is near $600. The coffee shop worker makes about $31 a month. The professor at the university with a PhD makes about $125 per month. So a normal birth is about a months salary, a c-section 2 months salary and a major surgery 4 months. To further add to the mix most people are living hand to mouth. Within this fund you can choose to give to the general fund for all patients or specify that it goes to the women and children.
Building Fund. Soddo Christian Hospital is a new hospital. It opened its doors in January of 2005. It is 120 bed hospital with building plans to be a 200 bed hospital. We do not have a decent guest house, housing for any more missionaries, housing for the resident physicians, the wards at times are overflowing and more are needed to care for the patients.
In 2011 we hope to accomplish the following projects:
- Construction of Resident housing Building, We currently have $130,000 donated toward the $663,000 project
- Construction of Guest House. We have $30,000 toward the $65,000 project.
- Finish the security wall surrounding the hospital $10,000
- Build three single family housing units $50,000 per unit for some amazing families joining the ministry in 2011-2012
I feel like I should explain some things. Resident housing: We currently have four Ethiopian surgical residents at the hospital. The program is called the Pan African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS). PAACS is a non-denominational, multinational service organization training African physicians to become general surgeons who are willing to remain in Africa. Training is offered at seven evangelical mission hospitals in Africa, under the direction of board certified missionary surgeons. In Africa, there is one general surgeon for every 250,000 people on average. In the rural areas there is one for every 2.5 million people. In America there is an average of about 2.3 physicians per 1,000 people; in Ethiopia there are about 3 physicians per 100,000 people. Even if I spend the rest of my life here when I die I can’t continue to treat patients. (I know that was an obvious statement!!!) The education of the physicians and all medical staff is key. You can read more about PAACS at www.paacs.net.
The security wall. This has many functions. I wish we didn’t need one, but we do. Recently, hyenas have been coming on the grounds. I always try to stand up real tall when I am walking from my house to the hospital at night, so the hyenas will know I am nothing to mess with!
If you are interested in helping with the building fund or the benevolence fund (this is tax deductible) you can go to www.soddo.org and give online or send money to:
St Luke’s Health Care Foundation
27W140 Roosevelt Road
Winfield, IL 60190
Supplies. I honestly don’t even know what to tell you we need. Where do you start? Some days it feels like you are pouring a glass of fresh water into the ocean in an attempt to turn the ocean into drinking water. It just doesn’t work. Is it best for me to just use the supplies that I have readily available? I would love to have a few blood pressure cuffs and thermometers. Hand sanitizer… hmm or maybe a recipe to make it for when we have no running water. And how wonderful would it be to have a fetal monitor, but I would be the only one who knows how to read it at the hospital. Oh! Oh! And wouldn’t it be amazing to have a group of people come and paint, get the plumbing working, have electricity all the time, teach the cleaners how to clean appropriately. For example, you should not use a mop to clean the toilet and then use the same mop to clean the floors and walls in the operating room and kitchen.
I don’t know.
Baby Hats. If you know how to knit, sew or just have money to buy baby hats it would be wonderful to be able to give a hat to all the mothers that deliver. The hat helps keep the infants warm. I would encourage you to put a note in each hat for the mother… prayers, a Bible verse, parenting advice, a funny story, baby jokes, a drawing from one of your kids, etc. And if you do this please pray for what goes in the hat. It could be the head of the next president of Ethiopia or a prostitute, but God has a plan for all of them. I think that we are averaging about 10-15 deliveries a week at Soddo Christian Hospital and probably 10 a day at Otona Hospital.
Hats can be sent to:
Stephanie Hail or Mark Karnes
Soddo Christian Hospital
Wollaita Soddo, Ethiopia, Africa
Some of my finances go towards the things listed below. If you would like to be a part of helping with any of them the money can be sent to World Medical Missions and I will use the money towards those things. 100% of these donations will go to me to use for these ministries. This also tax deductible. Most of it is small. A little bit here and a little bit there.
World Medical Missions
PO Box 3000
Boone, NC 28607
Orphanage Photo Shoots. There are about 6 million orphans in Ethiopia. They are raised by an institution. I have been able to donate some time by doing physical exams on the children and babies that are being adopted, but this costs me only my time. Another thing I have started is going to the orphanages and doing photo shoots of the kids. They love having their pictures taken! Most of them have no pictures of themselves, so I do photo shoots and give them pictures. To print a picture is about $0.15. It isn’t much, but there are hundreds of orphans here in Soddo and I would like to do this at least once a year. I know a picture is a small thing, but I want them to feel loved and see how beautiful they are.
Hiring the family and helping with medical cost. On several occasions I have had patients that have been in the hospital for extended periods of time. Sometimes a sister, mother or husband stays with them. As a general rule I have tried not to just give anyone money, but I have been hiring them to work in my garden or work on the hospital grounds and pay them the going rate for their work and provide meals for them. It allows them to stay with their family member and help pay the bill. It also allows me to employ someone to cook for them. Then there are the times that I just pay for patient care. I have a 17 year old woman right now who had been in labor for 3 days. When she came in the baby had already died. They were able to get the baby out. Since then she has an infection and has been very sick. She can’t walk without assistance and has trouble controlling her bowels and bladder because of the nerve damage. The family can’t even afford food for themselves let alone medications for her. She is at the government hospital and it is too far from my house, so I have just been paying for her care.
Education. I feel selfish asking for anything when I have so much in comparison to the people around me. I have a home, running water, electricity (and a generator if that isn’t working), shoes, access to clean water, a kitchen, internet and so much more.
Books. There is currently one book that I would like the buy. It is an atlas of pelvic surgery (Baggash). I am put in situations where I am doing surgeries where I am not confident in my skills and having a picture book would really help. On amazon the book is $200.
Student loans. I wasn’t sure if I should include this, but student loans are a huge part of my monthly costs. Medical school is anything but cheap. I am currently on the 30 year plan of paying back my loans. My monthly payment is about $850. This is probably my biggest financial concern for staying here long term. But like I said, I have the funding for the next year and a half to pay for this.
Continuing Medical Education. In order to be licensed here I have to have a license in the US, which requires going to conferences, reading journal articles, etc.
These next few things are things that I have not done, but would somehow like to do.
Chicken Coup Ministry. I would like to put a chicken coup in my yard to give eggs to the pregnant women who are in need of nutrition. There are several good things in doing this. One I would be able to employ someone to build a chicken coup. Two, I would employ someone to take care of the chickens. Three, it would provide nutrition to the mothers and babies. According to the United Nations, about 35% of the population in Ethiopia is undernourished. Even if I am unable to do a chicken coup, I would like to buy eggs. This is not something I have done yet, but hope to do.
Blankets for Babes. Unemployment is a problem here. I would love to find some women who can sew and hire them to make baby blankets to sell for the babies in the hospitals. We have two sewing machines on the compound. Any of these funds would be used for start up costs for the women. This is something that I have not started. I am not a business woman, so if you have any ideas of how to best make this work please let me know.
In Country Adoption. Yes, we will always have the poor and hungry, but why are we not choosing to take care of the ones that are near to us? Why are people here shunned for adopting? Why are the churches not encouraging families to take in the orphans and widows? I would love to go to the churches, the mosques, the schools and universities and encourage them to really look after and love the people that are in need. Ok, so when I say “I”, I mean be a part of it. I cannot do it. I should have some material coming soon on the study of God’s heart in adoption that was put together by a pastor in Uganda in an area where adoption was looked down on. I don’t have the time to take on such a huge project, but I hope to give the material to the local pastors and hope that their hearts will be touched. Please pray for wisdom in who to present this information to and to soften the hearts of the people towards the orphans.
Come and Serve. We are currently in need of:
- ICU nurse for 6 to 12 months
- A Contractor to oversee future buildings
- Accountant, CPA, someone with Hospital accounting experience,
- IT, your skills and our staff, you could bring tremendous encouragement in this needed area
- English Teachers
- a Maintenance man, we have a new Caterpillar generator and many other general facility updating issues. Someone to work alongside our national staff to train them in maintenance.
Prayer. I don’t put this last because I think prayer is unimportant. I think it is very important. At the same time, if everyone just stayed home and prayed would we be as effective in serving Him? I know that God doesn’t need me or you. I know at the snap of His fingers or even just a word spoken all the problems could be solved, but I think He has called each and everyone of us to be His hands and feet here on earth for each other, so we can experience Him. Listen to your heart. If you feel like God is calling you to do something, jump. Jump off the cliff with whatever you have on your back and know that He will guide you safely to your destination. We all have different callings. Some give. Some go. Some pray. If anything I hope this post will not encourage you to give to me or my mission, but to do what God has called YOU to do.
I would love any input from you all! Please post ideas. The needs are great and the challenge as to how best meet these needs is overwhelming.