by Andrew Slagor, RN Acute Care, Lakeland Medical Center, St. Joseph, Michigan
In 2016, at the beginning of the summer, doing mission’s work wasn’t anywhere on my radar. That is until a friend serving in the Rift Valley in Kijabe, Kenya sent a message describing a need the Rift Valley Academy (RVA) had in their student health clinic. After prayerfully considering the need and our ability to fill it, by mid-August I was on a plane to Africa with my wife and two children.
Founded in 1985, the Africa Inland Mission (AIM) had a goal to establish and support Christ-centered churches throughout the continent with missionaries in 20 countries. Charles Hurlburt, director of AIM, founded the RVA.
As a boarding school, the staff at RVA act as “secondary parents” to the roughly 500 students that attend there. Students live with dorm parents and many of the auxiliary school staff provide evening activities and mentoring. Students also attend daily chapels, weekly church services, and are led in Bible studies in their dorms.
My job was to work in the student health office where we provided care for students’ physical health. I was a member of a four-person team consisting of two additional registered nurses and a nurse practitioner. We worked together to handle day-to-day operations and shared the on-call duty for the infirmary and emergencies. If a student needed diagnostic tests, one of us would accompany the student on a short walk to the hospital.
Our team operated as a hybrid of primary care and an urgent care clinic. We saw about 20 to 30 students a day and treated a wide-range of ailments from gastrointestinal upset and urinary tract infections to head and orthopedic injuries.
There was also a myriad of projects to be completed including having consent forms signed, updating health histories, and administering the appropriate vaccines that students needed.
As an international school, the children attending RVA came from all over the world. Yet, through our many differences, we always had at least one thing in common—the belief in Jesus Christ. I was able to demonstrate God's love to the students at Rift Valley though providing and caring for their physical needs, and also their emotional needs.
There were also numerous activities hosted in our apartment that allowed us to interact and engage students. Some were relaxed and social, like variety night where we would host 10 to 15 students and play games or do a craft. We also partook in Caring Community, while still informal, it was a more intimate gathering that allowed us to have a deeper investment into four to six students. We met as a group with them every three weeks and discussed life happenings, struggles, and successes.
Rift Valley has created a strong community for the students, staff, and local Kenyan people. There was such a strong sense of community and everyone always jumped to meet a need whenever one was presented. My family and I were honored to be able to serve this community. It's truly amazing where God's call on your life can take you!
Southwestern Medical Clinic Foundation is providing limited scholarships to those in the medical industry who feel called to serve on short-term medical missions across the globe. If you or someone you know is interested in short-term mission work, visit www.swmcf.org to learn more about the scholarship program, read other impactful stories, and mission trip applications.