Sunday, March 8, 2015

Why medical education in Africa?

It is not entirely clear to me how I ended up with my family in Burundi.  I did not grow up wanting to be a physician.  I did not grow up particularly interested in Africa.  In fact, given my parent’s work, and my language study in college (Arabic), one might have suspected I would end up drawn to the Middle East.  However, sometime between finishing high school and finishing residency, I found myself more and more drawn to the continent of Africa.  It was not until my first year out of training in 2006 that I did my first short term medical mission trip, to Ghana.  I loved it.  I loved everything about that trip.  I loved the people I met, the work I was doing, and once I returned home, I could not wait to go back.  

So, why Africa?  The only answer I can come up with that makes any sense to me is that God has placed a love for Africa in my heart (and thankfully in the heart of my wife as well).  He has called me and my family here.  He has placed this desire in us, and He has opened the doors for us to respond to that desire.

So, why medical education?  My first several short term trips to Africa involved me DOING anesthesia, without much opportunity to teach.  Over the years, through personal experience as well as through reading several books on development work, I have been convicted that my time and effort are better invested in teaching rather than doing.  

Last weekend, as we were returning to Burundi, we spent Saturday night with our friends Randy and Carolyn Bond in Bujumbura.  Randy is the dean of Hope Africa medical school.  We got to talking about our love of maps, and he pulled up the map below to show me.  It is from a website called World Mapper.  This map shows the world’s countries enlarged or shrunken based on the percentage of physicians that country has working in it.  In case you missed it, Africa is the thin stripe right under Europe.  

So, why medical education in Africa?  I guess this is why.