Ever since medical school, I have felt called to work overseas. Throughout the early part of my career, I took several opportunities to work in the developing world. I spent time with different NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and was inspired by the work, the people, and the places. Even so, I felt troubled that the quality of care I could provide was inevitably compromised. Equipment shortages, suboptimal anaesthesia, and suspect sterility meant that complex surgical intervention was, at times, not meeting the standards that we take for granted in the Western world.
My first experience of working for CURE came in 2009 towards the end of my orthopedic training in the United Kingdom. I spent a year at the Beit CURE International Hospital of Malawi as an International Fellow. This period truly opened my eyes to the needs of children in the developing world. Children would often come to the hospital with severe and neglected pathology. They would also have a history of being heavily stigmatized by their community. CURE’s Christian ministry and first-class medical care brought physical and spiritual healing to these children and their families. It showed me what is possible and what could be regarded as the norm as both a Christian and surgeon.
It was a leap of faith for my wife and I to come to Ethiopia with our one-year-old son. We have been in Addis Ababa for two years and it continues to be a wonderful journey. In Ethiopia, like many countries in Africa, surgeons are scarce. There are 60 orthopedic surgeons in the country; one for every 1.5 million people (compared to 1 for every 12,500 people in the UK). I feel very blessed to be a part of this work and I am reminded daily of my reasons for leaving a UK practice.
CURE is unique for the service it provides. The first-class medical care, training, and ministry are pillars of this organization. The burden of musculoskeletal disability is enormous, and often through straight-forward procedures, we can be a part of something truly life-changing for these children.