By Michael LeCompte
I finished my fourth week at the hospital with one last minute case on a Sunday morning, two hours before I was supposed to catch a ride back to Nairobi. It turned out to be a great case but by the time I finished the operation, I was afraid I would not have time to get all my stuff packed. I did manage to hastily pack all of my stuff into a suitcase just before the car arrived and have just enough time to say a few goodbyes to some of the people I had met in Kijabe. One of the best parts of working oversees is meeting all of the incredible people along the way. This trip was no exception.
During my brief time at Kijabe Hospital, I was able to meet and interact with multiple people from different backgrounds, nationalities and professions that had all assembled at this particular hospital to serve the mission of the hospital and care for the patients. Though these encounters are often brief, there is a deeper sense of community and common bond in these relationships that is different from common work relationships or friendships. In my mind, the closest comparison of these relationships is to the friendships that are made at summer camp as a kid. I remember going to camp and making new friends in a unique environment. These friends have similar interests and passions because they came to the same camp as you. You get to go through the same experiences and activities together. At the end of the summer, you have to part ways and you go back to your old relationships but you always remember that great friend you made at camp. This is how I feel about mission work. During my time at Kijabe, I spent time with a gastroenterologist from the Mayo clinic and an endoscopy tech who were traveling to hospitals in Kenya to improve their endoscopy program and help service the equipment. I also met a surgery resident from the Congo who had traveled to Kenya to further his training in general surgery. When he arrived, he did not speak any English and had to learn a new language while also learning how to operate and manage patients. Finally, I also got to know several of my roommates during my time at Kijabe. I shared a house with five other guys from all over the world, including a medical student from England and a nurse anesthetist from Somaliland who had come to get further training in anesthesia as one of only three anesthetists in his entire country. Through these relationships, I am encouraged that there are like-minded people across the world that care about the medical needs in developing countries. I have truly enjoyed working in Kijabe and forming relationships with all of the unique people that make up a mission hospital and keep it running to serve that people of Kenya.