This past Wednesday we celebrated Dr. Aiah Lebbie and Dr. Martin Situma as they completed their formal training in pediatric surgery here at Kijabe Hospital in conjunction with BethanyKids of Kijabe Hospital. These men and their families have undergone 7 or 8 years of surgical training after internship to reach this point. It is a long journey that has required significant sacrifices not only on the part of the Martin and Aiah, but also their families who have supported and stood by them throughout the years. I am exceedingly proud of these two surgeons who are both men of God with hearts for His children and His Kingdom. Upon receiving their diplomas, they were quick to thank God for His guidance and sustenance along the way as well as to express their sincere gratitude to their wives and children.
Dr. Lebbie is a native of Sierra Leone and a general surgery graduate of the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons program in Mbingo, Cameroon. He and his family will shortly be returning to their home country for the first time in 7 years! Dr. Lebbie will be the first formally trained pediatric surgeon in his country!
Dr. Situma, a native Ugandan, did his general surgery training in Kampala, Uganda, prior to beginning his pediatric surgical training. After spending two years in South Africa, he joined the program in Kijabe to complete the requisite three years of training under the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA). In January, Dr. Situma will return to Uganda to begin work in Mbara as the second practicing pediatric surgeon in a country of over 36 million people.
In attendance at the ceremony were Dr. John Odondi (Director of Clinical Services for the Ministry of Health in Kenya), Mrs. Mary Muchendu, Executive Director of AIC Kijabe Hospital, Mr. Justus Marete (Head of BethanyKids – Africa), Dr. Samuel Mwenda, Secretary General of the Christian Health Association of Kenya (CHAK), Dr. Stewart Kabaka (Head of the Division of Child and Adolescent Health with the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation in Kenya), Dr. Fred Kambuni (Head of the Department of Pediatric Surgery at Kenyatta National Hospital), Dr. Ivan Stewart (Executive Director of BethanyKids), and Mr. Gary Oliver (BethanyKids-USA board member). Other staff members from Kijabe Hospital and BethanyKids also attended to honor the graduates.
The need for physicians, and especially surgeons, in sub-Saharan Africa is immense. The pediatric surgeon workforce is even smaller. The Pediatric Surgery Training program at Kijabe Hospital is run in partnership with BethanyKids of Kijabe Hospital under the auspices of the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons and accredited by the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa. Unlike in the United States, physicians in training are not paid during their specialty training. They either have to have personal or family resources to cover their own living expenses, apply for grants, or be bonded to a hospital for a defined period of time after completion of training to repay what the hospital or organization has provided. It is because of generous donations and the support of many people in North America and Europe that BethanyKids can afford to pay these trainees during their fellowship years. It is also through the generous giving of many of our supporters that we were able to give both Aiah and Martin a set of pediatric surgical instruments as well as pediatric surgical and pediatric urologic textbooks to take back with them to their home countries. I want to thank so many of you for your investment in this training program and in these men and their families in particular. Your prayers and financial support to us, PAACS, and BethanyKids allow us to do this work for the Kingdom.