Coming Together Through Adversity

Writing from CURE Ethiopia, it is hard to predict the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in Ethiopia and in other countries where CURE serves. The spread seen in many African countries has been following a different trajectory when compared to the rapid escalation seen in North America and Europe. While we will undoubtedly face further challenges, our combined response as a network has fostered a new level of understanding and collaboration among our hospitals as well as in the communities where CURE serves. 

Zoom meetings have become part of the rhythm of all our lives. The same is true for the CURE network. We hold twice-weekly calls to bring together the executive and medical leadership of all our hospitals – each meeting opens with a passage from the bible, a personal perspective, and prayer. We then share our current challenges and discuss potential solutions that make sense for the individual hospital as well as for the network. Our hospitals have never had a greater understanding of each other’s needs and the crucial role that the CURE Mission Support Center plays in supplying essential supplies and equipment to our hospitals. These meetings have been a great blessing to us all as we navigate this difficult time.

During this crisis, CURE continues to provide transformative surgical and spiritual care for some of the most disadvantaged children in society. But what steps should a hospital take if widespread, exponential community transmission of COVID-19 takes hold? This question is particularly salient at CURE Uganda. Many infants continue to arrive each day with life-threatening hydrocephalus. While the threat of COVID-19 is significant, without urgent surgical treatment to drain extra fluid that presses on their brain, the majority of these infants will die. This hospital truly provides life-saving surgery, and all efforts are being made by the leadership to maintain the clinical service throughout this time.

CURE hospitals are being a blessing to the community that surrounds them. CURE Philippines (Tebow CURE) has been accommodating doctors from government hospitals who have been providing essential COVID-19 care. In Uganda, an unused ventilator has been refurbished and donated to the regional hospital for COVID-19 care. At CURE Ethiopia, teams have been training the government sector on how to make hand sanitizer, and staff has donated a portion of their wages to support those in the local community who are in financial distress. Teams from CURE Kenya have been supporting those affected by local floods through food relief and prayer.

On a recent visit to CURE Kenya, we passed a truck in the picture below. ‘God is greater than the giant you face’ was on the back. It references a passage in Numbers where Israelite spies had seen giants in the promised land and were fearful to proceed. Joshua and Caleb reminded the Israelites of God’s provision in the preceding years, and how they should be secure in his omnipotence and faithfulness moving forward. The same is true for us.

The economic downturn due to the pandemic has had far-reaching effects across the globe and has also impacted CURE. Painful decisions have been made resulting in the loss of several hugely talented and committed co-workers. And yet, through this turbulent period, we have been inspired by the dedication of our staff. Our nurses, physicians, physiotherapists, lab and x-ray technicians, cleaners and administrative staff continue to provide excellent, compassionate service despite any fears they may have at this time. While the future of this pandemic is unknowable, the greater shared understanding across our network of hospitals will serve us well in the challenges ahead.

We have a faithful, omnipotent God, and we know the current crisis will pass. We look forward to the next season of CURE’s mission with expectation and in the knowledge that this period will strengthen our resolve to heal more of the most disadvantaged children in the world and be a part of the transformation that happens when the gospel is shared with their families and communities.


Photo of the Rick Gardner

About the Author:

Dr. Rick Gardner serves as an Orthopedic Surgeon and Medical Director at CURE Ethiopia. His first introduction to CURE was in 2009 as a surgical fellow at CURE Malawi. Seeing the burden of childhood disability firsthand in Sub-Saharan Africa and the impact that CURE was having in the country were instrumental in his move to Ethiopia.

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