From Slums to Surgical Suite
Dr. Ian Orwa is no stranger to poverty. He grew up in the slums of Nairobi, the only child of a single mother. While his mother worked, he was sent to live with an aunt who had polio.
“I was around 13 when I lost my aunt, who was my guardian, to a preventable disease, a pulmonary embolism,” he recalls. “I blamed myself and God and I moved away from Him. But with time, I gave my life to Christ. I wanted God to take charge in my life and give my life a purpose.”
He joined a group for people dealing with the death or fatal illness of family members. As they shared their grief and prayed for the sick and for each other, he saw the toll disease had on their lives.
“This experience is how I decided to join medical school and that was the best decision I made in my life,” Dr. Orwa explains. But while working as a medical officer in the surgery department of a Kenyan district hospital, he was dismayed to see patients suffer because there was no orthopedic surgeon in the entire district.
“Many patients were dumped to the wards and left for months without proper care, especially the old. The simple straightforward cases were not dealt with, always complicating before anybody did anything. This need is what drove me to want to train and go provide my service to those desperate people.”
Yet in Kenya, the high cost of orthopedic surgery training was well beyond what Dr. Orwa could afford. His dream seemed impossible – until he learned about MedSend Nationals. Today he is a member of MedSend’s 2015 Spring Class and approved for a grant through MedSend Nationals, a pilot program that funds advanced in-country medical training and Christian mentorship for national believers who are committed to serving in their own countries. Once funded, the grant will allow Dr. Orwa to enroll in a new orthopedic surgery residency program at a mission hospital in Kenya. This is especially exciting since Dr. Orwa will be trained and mentored by another MedSend grant recipient, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Daniel Galat, who heads the new residency program.
“Of the applicants for this year’s class, Dr. Orwa stood out on top,” Dr. Galat notes. Several qualities are required for this rigorous program and he displayed them all.” Among the qualities he cites are Dr. Orwa’s strong faith in Jesus Christ, stellar academics and work record, as well as his demonstrated aptitude for hard work, which is critical for the demanding career as an orthopedic surgeon in the developing world. Dr. Orwa is eager to embrace his new training and career – grueling work and all.
“Through Him, I found my place,” he says. “Through medicine, I can spread His Word and show His work and service to the needy is a priority. And through the orthopedic surgery residency program, I hope to get the necessary skills to serve for Him.”
Dr. Galat: “We are thankful for the privilege of training orthopedic surgeons for service in Africa!”
“Jesus commanded His disciples, the same ones He poured His own life into over a three-year period, to continue the cycle, and go into all nations and make more disciples. This is God’s design for all of us who would desire to make a true and long-lasting difference in the Kingdom. As a missionary orthopedic surgeon at a mission hospital in Kenya, I have the privilege of caring for medically underserved patients, providing compassionate healthcare in Jesus’ name, praying with patients and encouraging them to walk with Jesus. However, the greater privilege is the unique opportunity we have to disciple young national surgeons who come to this hospital for training. As part of a Christian surgical residency program whose goal is to raise up African missionary surgeons to reach the most needy patients in Africa, we train general and orthopedic residents not only in excellent healthcare, but also in a deeper walk with Christ, to help them grow in their own faith, passing on the truths that were built into us, thus continuing the cycle of discipleship in an international context.”
~ Daniel Galat, MD, FCS (orth), ECSA, Director of Orthopedic Surgery at Tenwek Hospital and MedSend grant recipient
Healthcare remains the only form of access as a Christian witness in many countries.
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