Investing in Surgical Training to Reach More Children in Need

You know that story in the Bible where the boss is going on a long business trip, and he gives three of his employees some cash to see what they can do with it while he’s gone. The first one freaks out and stuffs the cash under his mattress just to keep it safe until his boss gets back. The second one finds an interesting business venture and invests his boss’ cash eventually doubling it. And the third employee sits down, does some research on intelligent investing, and ends up earning a 10x increase on the boss’ money. Now, none of the employees lost any of the boss’ money, but he had some really harsh words for the mattress stuffer and some really high praise for the investors.

God has given us all gifts, but these gifts aren’t really for us. They’re God-given so we can go out into the world, invest in other people, and multiply them for the good of humankind and the glory of God. At CURE Ethiopia, one of the ways we invest our gifts is through extensive training programs. At any given time, we can have up to four doctors training inside our operating rooms – three residents from Ethiopian medical schools doing an orthopedics rotation with us and one surgical fellow doing a yearlong specialization in pediatric orthopedics.

Additionally, Dr. Tim Nunn is heading up an effort to create a training course which will enable Ethiopian surgeons, physical therapists, and casting practitioners to treat what’s called delayed presenting clubfoot. Because our bones are a little bendy when we’re born, clubfoot can be treated, in a non-surgical manner, through progressive casting. But if clubfoot isn’t caught, or discovered before our bones firm up – as most are not in Ethiopia – multiple surgeries are needed.

Hundreds of children come to CURE Ethiopia each year for clubfoot surgery. Children suffering from this condition go through an initial casting phase, which slowly stretches their foot and prepares it for surgery. Then they generally have three short visits to the operating room. The first is to lengthen one of the tendons in the affected foot, giving the surgeons slack to modify the position of the foot. The second is to stretch the newly lengthened tendons and achieve slightly more correction. The third is to rearrange some tendons essentially enabling the foot to pull itself straight.

It’s a straight-forward condition to treat, and with the right training, a team of casting techs, surgeons, and physical therapists could treat it at local hospitals all over Ethiopia. Considering that the waitlist at CURE Ethiopia is currently sitting at approximately 5,000 children, increasing the number of qualified and compassionate medical professionals around Ethiopia is one of the best ways to get more children the care they desperately need in a timely manner! If relatively simple procedures, like treating clubfoot, can be done elsewhere then that frees up the highly specialized CURE surgeons to treat the more complicated cases

That is the goal of CURE’s training programs, and the goal of the clubfoot treatment course Dr. Tim is developing in conjunction with Oxford University in the UK. CURE Ethiopia and Oxford University have been able to proliferate their excitement about the course to bring both Christian Blind Mission (CBM) and the UK’s Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET) on board to help fund the creation and propagation of this course.

It’s through partnerships with organizations like CBM and THET, training programs like the clubfoot course, and CURE’s regular residency and fellowships programs that CURE is taking every dollar you give and multiplying it. We’re actively investing the money that you give in the future of the countries in which we serve. When you become a CURE Hero and donate towards the treatment of children like Dawit (pictured above), you’re not only changing his life but also investing in the education and specialization of fellows like current CURE Ethiopia Pediatric Orthopedic Fellow Dr. Bekalu. Your donation is changing the life of Dawit, and it is also contributing to the life of every Ethiopian child Dr. Bekalu changes in his career once he finishes his fellowship with us. 

Additionally, you are supporting the development of the clubfoot course that will teach other surgeons the necessary skills to transform the state of clubfoot treatment in Ethiopia!


Photo of the Joel Witwer

About the Author:

My title says that I'm the Lead Storyteller, previously Storyteller for Niger, previously CUREkids Coordinator in Zambia. All this really means is I hang out with kids and sometimes take photos. I love these kids thus I love my job. My goal is to translate this love into pixels and words so that you can fall in love as well!

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