Ten Years of CURE in Ethiopia
On January 22nd, 2019, CURE Ethiopia celebrated ten years of operation! CURE Ethiopia specializes in the orthopedic care of children, treating conditions like clubfoot, bowed legs, and knock knees, as well as non-orthopedic deformities like cleft lips, cleft palates, and burn contractures through visiting surgeons.
CURE Ethiopia has grown exponentially within the past ten years. By 2014, a mere five years after opening, doctors were performing roughly 1,000 procedures per year. Now, after ten years of operation, our patient output has more than doubled to approximately 2,500 children treated each year! To help even more children in Ethiopia, CURE has strategically developed partnerships with numerous Ethiopian hospitals, providing training and experience to the next generation of Ethiopian orthopedic surgeons. These partnerships expand CURE’s reach far beyond the walls of our hospital.
To celebrate the hard work and accomplishments of the CURE Ethiopia staff, we decided to invite community members, CURE supporters, and CURE leadership into our hospital to witness the life transformations that occur every single day.
Big names, both nationally and internationally, came to celebrate with us. We welcomed the current president of Ethiopia (and Ethiopia’s first female president), Sahle-Work Zewde, as well as State Minister of Health, Dr. Lia Tadesse, and Trevor Rees-Jones of the Rees-Jones Foundation, a significant donor to CURE’s work in Ethiopia. Roger Spoelman, CURE’s president and CEO, was in attendance, along with several CURE board members and senior management, including Jerry Tubergen, Ed Stillman, Dr. Joe Stowell, Brian Van Hall (Chief Operations Officer), Greg Bellig (Chief Medical Officer), and Earnest Kioko (Senior Director of Spiritual Ministry). Representatives from other CURE hospitals also made the trip to Ethiopia to celebrate with us. CURE is an expansive yet close-knit family, and a success for one CURE hospital is a success for us all!
We were honored to host our distinguished guests, but we were most excited to welcome visitors who, though slightly less accomplished, are no less important than dignitaries and leaders of business; they’re the reason we’re here! We were thrilled that former patients Daniel, Adem, and Andualem made the long trek back to CURE Ethiopia to tell their stories. Daniel and Adem spent a lot of time with us over the past few years, so their arrival felt like a homecoming. Each had a chance to share their story; however, Adem ended up suffering from a rather severe case of stage fright, so his uncle Mohamed shared in his place!
As Daniel reflected upon how much his life has changed, he became overcome with emotion. He received comfort from Mesfin Taye, CURE Ethiopia’s Counseling Director, as well as President Zewde! Being comforted by the president of Ethiopia is an experience he’ll probably never forget.
We also heard from 15-year-old patient Andualem, whose bilateral clubfoot rendered him unable to walk. His mother was so determined that her son receive an education that she carried him to and from school each day. After surgeries on each of his feet, Andualem is walking for the first time in years. His last X-ray indicated no problems at all with his bones.
Stories like Daniel’s, Adem’s, and Andualem’s are testimonies of why we do what we do. Receiving recognition for our work is great, and honoring partners is important, but these kids and their families are why we get up and come in every day.
While we celebrate the amazing things that have happened in the past 10 years, there is still great need in Ethiopia. Currently, there is only 1 orthopedic surgeon for every 1 million people here, and the majority of them are trauma specialists in the capital city. Very few Ethiopian orthopedic surgeons specialize in children’s disabilities, and we estimate that there are more than 2.5 million Ethiopian kids living with correctable disabilities today. They are in desperate need of quality orthopedic care. That’s why we’ve made our hospital an internationally accredited orthopedic training site and why we offer a subspecialty fellowship program: to help train up the next generation of Ethiopian orthopedic surgeons, expanding access to care that is so critically needed.
We’re amazed by how far God has brought us in just a decade. Ten years ago, we laid a foundation in the dirt on a hillside just outside of Addis Ababa. Today, CURE Ethiopia, the epicenter of pediatric orthopedic excellence in the country, stands in its place.
When we first opened our doors, no one had heard of CURE. Today, we are keepers of thousands of transformational tales about Ethiopian children who are no longer suffering from debilitating conditions. In just ten years, God brought us further than we ever could have imagined.
We dream big because our patients deserve nothing less. Thankfully, we have a big God, so we know our hopes for the future are in good hands.
Thank you for sharing in our journey. We can’t wait to see what the next ten years bring.