Together with the Daytona Beach Seventh-day Adventist Church, AdventHealth Daytona Beach recently embarked on a mission trip to Meru, Kenya. A team of 28 people left on February 27th, 2019 to fulfill the organization's mission of Extending the Healing Ministry of Christin Africa.
Over the week, the 10-person AdventHealth medical team — made up of eight registered nurses, one physician assistant and one physician — ran six separate medical clinics in the villages they visited. Since Kenyan communities don't have easy access to medical care, the team treated and diagnosed a variety of diseases and conditions. They also offered Vacation Bible School programs and CREATION Life education seminars to further connect with the community.
The mission work extended beyond health care. While the medical team treated ailments, an 18-person construction team worked diligently to build and upgrade the Kiutine Seventh-day Adventist School that’s home to 132 primary and secondary students.
Here are some of the highlights from the team’s amazing days spent halfway across the world.
Welcoming Arrival and Sabbath Service
After two long days of travel, the AdventHealth team arrived in Africa. The following day, they made the seven-hour drive to Meru and arrived in time to attend a Sabbath service at a local "bush church."
The services are held in the Lolaparui Village that's home to the Samburu tribe. The mission group was welcomed with a traditional song and dance and then had the honor of attending the service where Pastor Travis and team member Joey gave the message and children's story.
The AdventHealth team donated three suitcases of clothes to the adults, toys and treats to the children, and purchased grains and beans for the village to help them during their seasonal drought. The village thanked the team with gifts of tribal shawls and songs. The day was full of blessings and set the stage perfectly for the good work to come on the trip.
Day 1: Medical Treatments
The first day of medical treatments took place in the town of Mangala.
Hosted in a church inside the remote village, the church pastor and local community members welcomed the medical team and helped spread the word about the services.
The response was overwhelming.
The team gave out 180 tickets for medical treatment, but as ticket recipients eagerly brought family members with them, they ultimately saw over 300 patients.
Thanks to generous donations that were given to support the mission trip, the AdventHealth team handed out sunglasses, eyeglasses, over 200 toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste, as well as suitcases of clothes and toys for the community.
The first day of the clinic showed how necessary and timely this mission truly was. One elderly woman was picking up her medicine at a pharmacy station when she began shaking, went stiff, and then started to seize. The medical team rushed in to hydrate her and attempted to call an ambulance. The unfortunate reality of the local health care situation became clear.
The ambulance, couldn’t get to their location. Instead, a driver came to transport the patient and her husband and brought her home. According to her husband, this happens to her once a week and they don't know why.
The team was touched by numerous heart-wrenching stories like this. They treated a malnourished 10-month-old who was born two months premature and is still only the size of a newborn. Her very young mother wasn't able to produce enough milk, and couldn't understand why the child wasn't growing. The medical team provided formula and instructions and prayed with her for the baby to survive.
Day 1: Construction Developments
The AdventHealth construction team arrived on the first day of the build to bring a new kitchen and cafeteria to life for the Kiutine School. Greeted by 100 school-aged children who sang and held their hands, the team was treated to a moving performance and tour of the campus.
Then the work began. The group divided up into teams and began laying the foundation for the new structure.
Day 2: Medical Treatments
The second day of medical treatments was even more productive than the first. Hosted by a school in the village of Awamba, the team cared for nearly 400 children and adults.
Although the need for medical care in the community was overwhelming, with cases of terrible wounds, extremely high fevers of over 104 degrees, and underdeveloped children, the team did their best to offer treatments and comforts to the community.
They encountered some extremely unique conditions, including gigantism and congenital backward legs, which presented unique opportunities and challenges for the medical staff.
Day 2: Construction Developments
The second day of construction saw both impressive progress on the cafeteria and some distinguished visitors.
The team began blocking off the 5th level of the cafeteria walls, and despite the extreme heat, were able to move over 600 cement blocks and construct the scaffolding for the project.
The day ended early with a great celebration that included the President of Maranatha Volunteers International, their board, as well as the Conference and Division leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
The guests of honor for the event were the primary donors who generously gave funds to develop the school.
Day 3: Medical Treatments
Day three was adventurous, beginning with a 2 1/2 hour ride along a dirt road to the Chumveire Village of the Turkana tribe.
Like the Samburu tribe the team met on day one, the Turkana are a nomadic people who settled near a well that Maranatha has installed.
The tribe greeted the team with a song in appreciation of their help, and the elders shared stories about their customs. In this tribe, men only wear pants if they are educated. One notable elder was a man referred to as Pistol Pete who carried a memorable "African Gun" (actually a knife) and was accompanied by two heavily armed police officers.
At the clinic, over 114 ticketed adults and 400 children received treatment. The most common ailments were aches and pains in their joints from the living conditions and the walking required in their daily lives.
Malnutrition was another significant problem, so to the delight of the community, the team handed out Plumpy’Nut — packed with calories and nutrients from peanuts, oil, sugar, milk powder, and vitamin and mineral supplements— during their visit.
Day 3: Construction Developments
The team started bright and early and put in an extra hour on the third day to make up for time lost during the celebration the day before.
The building started coming together with 11 rows of bricks laid and all the doors and windows framed in.
Two of the team members, Natalia and Christy, were invited to visit the classrooms and talk with the children about their life experiences.
Day 4: Medical Treatments
On the fourth day of delivering medical treatment, the team traveled the long, rocky road to Kalimbeni Village. The road was so narrow they weren't able to drive the bus into the schoolyard where the clinic was held. When they finally arrived on foot, they were greeted by over 500 people from the village hoping for medical treatment.
The clinic itself was held in a building with a dirt floor that the team had to keep wet to stop dust from blowing around.
They saw over 550 patients with a variety of ailments, including some exceptionally unique medical situations. One had maggots in their knee, another had an infection so serious that they may lose their hand if they can’t get advanced treatment at a nearby hospital. There were patients with hydrocephalus, goiter, Down syndrome, lip cancer, pernicious anemia, and even a patient with worms in their eyes.
Although some of these conditions are disturbing, the team was able to make a difference in countless lives through their medical services and intervention.
Day 4: Construction Developments
The fourth day of construction greeted the team with 98-degree temperatures. Although the team had to remove the tarp off of the roof, which meant shade was hard to come by, it was still something to celebrate.
All four walls of the school were finally complete and the building had started to shape up.
The team learned this day that a mere $1 per day would cover the cost of tuition for the students at the school, but many who attend can barely afford it. Each day of the mission trip proved to be equal parts rewarding and eye-opening.
Day 5: Medical Treatments
The next stop for clinic team was the small, remote village of Kambya. They set up shop at the Seventh-day Adventist Church at the top of a steep dirt road where 508 adults and children traveled for medical care.
The group helped manage a variety of conditions, the most common being respiratory issues the villagers develop from constantly breathing in dust.
The team also noticed patterns of medical issues like rotten teeth, constipation, mouth ulcers and a loss of appetite among people who used the drug Khat, an herbal stimulant chewed for recreational and medicinal use.
After treating the villagers and ministering to the community, the school affiliated with the church hosted the team and welcomed them in English. They left with a prayer from the pastor for safe travels in their journey.
Day 5: Construction Developments
The team cleaned up the job site and moved over 400 concrete blocks to make room for the roof installation. By the end of the day, over half the roof was on the building, and the team was treated to a group of children pitching in to help in the afternoon.
The children sang and assisted the team, and watched as all of the windows and doors were framed, and a truckload of furniture was unloaded and prepared for assembly.
Day 6: Medical Treatments
The final day of medical care on the trip was held at Kiutine school. A total of 629 patients gathered for treatment, and there were many extreme conditions seen throughout the day.
By the end of this rewarding week, the team had served and ministered to a total of 2,637 people and helped thousands of lives in this local community.
Day 6: Construction Developments
On the final day of the build, the team tied up all the loose ends to complete the project. They put together all of the furniture, installed the doors and windows, and cleaned up the construction site.
The medical team visited the school with a supply suitcase and tended to some of their needs. One thing that stood out to the team was that, despite how little the children had, they were always smiling and happy. They are resilient and amazing, and the team feels blessed to have met them.
Grateful Goodbye and Sabbath Service
Both the construction and medical teams joined together on the Sabbath to attend a service at the church in the community where the cafeteria was built.
The medical team got their first tour of the campus, and the Chief Nursing Officer at AdventHealth Daytona Beach, Michele Goeb-Burkett, gave a brief talk to the boys and girls about striving for more and succeeding.
Following lunch, the team was honored by the community. The principal of the school and the pastor lead the celebration and the choir from the school sang songs to the teams.
Gifts and thanks were shared, and then Pastor Travis said a prayer before cutting the ribbon and welcoming the village to their new building. The children continued to sing, celebrate and share their joy.
The week was incredible, amazing and humbling, and the Sabbath provided the perfect opportunity for reflection on all the good work that was done in this community.
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