Category Archives: Medical

The Power of Education

IMG_4669IMG_2727In May I traveled to Mombasa with HMI intern, Julie, to teach a first aid and CPR course to a group of football (soccer for you USA friends) coaches. There was a lot of sweat, and even more laughter, throughout the course. We ran the full introduction to first-aid and basic health information class. A few coaches asked early on why it wasn’t just sports focused. We shared that what we were teaching was useful information that could be used at any time on, or off, the soccer pitch.

Just today I received an update from our hosts that a few of the coaches responded to an IMG_4596emergency over the weekend. They were able to help an epileptic woman who collapsed and was having a seizure on a public street. Not only were they able to safely administer first-aid, but they handled crowd-control and follow-up medical care, just as they had been trained to do. Another coach was able to identify a neighbor who was having seizures. People were saying that this neighbor was being possessed by an evil spirit. The coach was able to share the need to get medical help for this very real physical condition. What a blessing to get this report!

It was also really special to hear our hosts share that the coaches were impressed with how we showed love to them through running this course. The comment was made that it was clear what we were doing was out of love, not a requirement by our religion. I continue to be blessed at how powerful holistic ministry can be. Thanks for praying for and supporting the work we do here. Because hope really does matter!

Hospital Groundbreaking Ceremony

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On April 16, 2018 we officially broke ground, kicking off construction of the Village of Hope Hospital. To view a short video clip from this special ceremony, please click here. Please pray with us for God’s hand to be over this project from start to finish. Give thanks for the way he has already provided. Pray with us for daily wisdom, and for every need to be met along the way. Right now we are facing quite a bit of rain which is making progress slow. Please pray for favorable weather and safety on the job-site. Thank you for standing with us during this exciting season!

If you would like to support Hope Matters Financially, US tax-deductible donations can be made by clicking here.

Stories of Hope: Kiplagat

IMG_2265When I first met Kiplagat, his clinical picture was grim at best. I honestly did not expect him to survive. He had cerebral malaria, was unconscious, and his neurological exam was very concerning. I shared with the family quite honestly that the situation did not look good. And that without immediate brain surgery, he would not be likely to survive. I remember standing in the room and raising my hands to heaven as I prayed for him. I cried out to God to work a miracle in this situation that seemed beyond hope.

I went back to my office to write an emergency referral and organize for him to be taken to the hospital over an hour away. As I was typing the report, one of our staff members came in and told me that Kiplagat was awake and talking. I had to ask him to repeat himself. Yes, this woman of faith, who had just asked God to work a miracle, did not believe that the patient could be capable of talking. But he was. It didn’t make sense. So often our God works in ways that don’t make sense. Kiplagat still needed to get to the hospital, but it no longer seemed that death would be certain.

The next day the family came back to report that Kiplagat had survived surgery. A few weeks later the head of the family came to our staff meeting. He explained that the family had met together and decided that they needed to thank and honor us for our care of Kiplagat. So this past Sunday, a delegation from the Village of Hope staff traveled to his home.

Kiplagat Speaking

Kiplagat thanking the Village of Hope Staff for their care

As we bumped over miles and miles of rough, dirt, roads, I kept thinking what a miracle it was that Kiplagat even made it to our medical centre alive. The family served us lunch, then took time to share from their hearts. Person after person stood up to give thanks for what we had done. It was emphasized that it was shocking that we had been more worried about helping our patient, than making sure we would be paid for taking care of him. Several mentioned that I was the first mzungu (white person) to ever visit their neighborhood. And then Kiplagat stood up to speak. He shared with us that he has a newborn baby; that now he will get to see this little one grow. He has been given a second chance at life.

I was asked to be the final speaker of the day. I spoke from my heart and explained why it is that I am here serving in rural Kenya. That God has called me to serve those in need, to bring His hope and healing. I also reminded them of the prayer over Kiplagat’s unconscious body. It was not me, or my skills, that saved him. It was because of God’s healing touch that he has a second chance at life. And I am beyond thankful that I could be an instrument of healing in Kiplagat’s life. It is an honor and a privilege to live out this calling.

When you stand with Hope Matters by supporting the ministry financially, you are helping empower us to reach patients like Kiplagat with a healing touch. If you would like to make a one-time gift or set up monthly donations to help support the ministry, please click here.

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Joy in The Morning

IMG_1825 IMG_1818 IMG_1829I first met Sam and Naomi in January of this year. She was a bit quiet and shy.  She softly told me that she was pregnant. And that she was a type 1 diabetic. She and her husband have wanted a baby for many years. In fact, she lost her first one in childbirth back in 2011. There haven’t been any baby’s since then. She was excited. She was afraid. Could I help? Would I help? So much hope. So much fear. And thus our journey together began. I’ve been seeing her in clinic at least weekly since then. There have been some weeks when we had two, or even three visits. We’ve gone through hyper and hypoglycemia episodes. There was a big, scary, kidney infection. A few blood pressure worries along the way too. But yesterday Naomi safely brought baby Michelle into the world. I feel so honored and humbled that this precious little one would be given my name. This morning I had the honor of holding her in my arms; of praying over baby Michelle and her proud mama. This family had a long, dark, night before receiving this gift. What a blessing to be able to walk this path with them and rejoice together over this new life.

*Naomi has given permission for me to share her story and pictures with you.

Jesca’s Story of Hope

IMG_0397I don’t have a picture of her, there just was not time to take one. Jesca is 42-years old, but her eyes look older than that. She came to me 33-weeks pregnant with her 6th child. It was her 7th pregnancy, she had lost a baby along the way. She shared that ten days ago her water and broken. Let me repeat that, TEN DAYS ago her water had broken. She had been passing blood clots since then but had not gone into labor.

My heart sank.. I thought to myself “this won’t be my first fetal demise, but I sure wish it could be my last”. My gut said that they baby had probably already died a few days ago and for whatever reason her body was refusing to let it go. I told her that we would do a quick ultrasound scan, exam, and then write a referral to get her appropriate treatment at the hospital.

After putting the ultrasound probe on her abdomen we saw something unexpected, the baby’s heart was beating! Slowly, but beating! We confirmed that there was virtually no amniotic fluid inside the uterus. It was a miracle that this baby still had a heartbeat; and that Jesca didn’t have a raging infection given the history. But with the frequent episodes of the heart rate decelerating, she needed to delivery quickly.

As I reviewed her forms I realized that she had not had enough money to get adequate prenatal care. The government clinic had ordered lab tests, but she didn’t have the money to get them done. She had waited these 10 days to seek help because she had nothing she could make a payment with. Her husband was with her. There was a desperation in his eyes. Neither of them had a phone. It’s one of the most basic things here, everyone has a phone since no contracts are needed and there are many cheap, burner-style models readily available. But neither of them could afford one.

We placed our hands on Jesca’s belly and prayed for her and the baby. Then we activated an emergency referral, and provided resources for transportation to the hospital an hour away. And then we waited. This was one of those times where I wasn’t sure if we would ever know the outcome. Especially given that there was no phone number to call and follow up. But the next day Jesca’s husband was in my office. With tears in his eyes he kept repeating “I thank God for you. I thank God for you. They are both alive.” Jesca delivered a baby girl through an emergency C-section.

Thank you for praying for us. Thank you for remembering us. Thank you for making the choice to financially support the ministry of Hope Matters. Your prayers and donations are making a difference to people like Jesca and her baby girl.

Failing Hearts

IMG_5079This morning we pulled up to the medical centre a few minutes before scheduled opening time. A little girl and her mom were already there waiting for us. She is just five-years-old and her name is Nicole (not pictured). As soon as I put my stethoscope on her chest I heard it. A loud, harsh, murmur. My first thought was that I’m so very sick of seeing children with physically, broken, hearts. Most often they are hearts that were severely damaged by untreated strep-throat. I suspect that is the case for Nicole. We won’t know how bad her situation is until we get some more advanced tests performed at the hospital that is over an hour’s drive away.

As tired as I am of seeing children needlessly suffering, I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be here. Thankful that I have the ability to do something to help these precious little ones. I’m thankful that Village of Hope exists to bring hope and healing to families like Nicole’s. So thankful for the faithful prayer partners who lift our staff and patients up in prayer. And I’m thankful for you, our partners around the world who support us financially making it possible for us to be here doing what we do. When you make a secure donation to Hope Matters by clicking here, you are helping make a difference in the lives of children like Nicole.

The Pain and the Privilege of My Calling

I’m coming off of about five hours of restless sleep this morning. A baby kept me up last night. But it wasn’t my baby. No. It was a baby who had died in his mommy’s womb before I met either of them.

Last night someone came running to my back door saying that there was an emergency at the clinic and the nurse on call was asking me to come. I know that this particular nurse is super-capable and if she was calling for my help it was probably bad.

She actually had three patients come in, in a very short time. She was the only nurse on duty as it was after-hours. Two of the cases she had under control, but one needed me to use my ultrasound skills. It was a young, expectant couple who are not from our community. Just the two of them, no support team of in-laws, friends etc. that you usually see during the birth of a baby in our small community. The nurse explained to me that the mom was in active labor, had been having pains for two days, and had not felt the baby move since early morning. She couldn’t find a heartbeat with a Doppler so she had already set up the ultrasound for me to use.

I am most certainly not a perinatologist, neither am I even an OB/GYN doctor. I’m simply a nurse practitioner who has sought out some extra training for times like this. And it did not take a specialist to see that this full-term baby was not moving in the womb. I located the heart and did not see any movement. The baby appeared to have already died in the womb.

This couple was completely new to our clinic and had received all of their prenatal care elsewhere. I stepped outside with the clinic nurse, visiting nurse from America, and father of the baby. In times like these you have to be so culturally sensitive even as you make medical judgments. I shared with the parents that I had some very serious concerns about the baby; that we would do everything we could but that I could not guarantee a positive outcome.

I recently read about a case in another place in Africa where a woman was referred to a large medical center to deliver because the smaller center had referred her for a fetal demise (same sort of case). In that situation the baby was blue at birth and did not move so they put it to the side and focused on mom. A few minutes later they went to move the baby’s body and found it alive and moving. So I had resolved in my heart to hold on to hope and do my very best for this family.

It was not a particularly difficult delivery; her first time, so of course not easy, but not particularly difficult from a medical standpoint. The nurse and I decided that she would manage mom and I would handle the baby. As the baby came through the birth canal I began to do all the things that I normally would during a delivery. But it looked bad. I’ve done resuscitation on many babies, but this one was definitely beyond resuscitation. I walked the baby away from the mom to another exam table. I listened. No heartbeat. I attempted resuscitation for a few minutes all the while knowing that the baby was already gone. I put my hands on the exam table and leaned over this precious baby boy and asked God “What now?” I needed to know that the mom was physically stable before going to see her with bad news.

The placenta came rather quickly and I knew it was time. I knew that she already had to know something was wrong as there were no cries from my side of the room. I looked up to my colleague and told her that I was going to talk to the father and would be right back. (In the rural setting here in this culture, fathers are not present for deliveries.) I shared the news with him. That I had tried, but that the little boy was already with Jesus when he came out of his mommy. We went back into the delivery room together and he wanted to hold the baby but was afraid to at the same time. I helped him. We talked for a minute and then I went to see the mom. She still needed post-partum care but I knew this conversation could not wait any longer. I shared with her that her baby was not breathing when he was born. That his heart was not beating. That I tried but I could not get the baby to breathe or have a heartbeat. That her child was a boy and that he had died.

Oh the anguish… She whispered “My Baby..” in Swahili and then began to thrash and scream. She shouted all of the normal questions that really have no answers. “Why my baby? Why me? I was not prepared for this! I want to die too..” I wrapped my arms around her and cried with her. In a moment like that, there really is nothing more that one can do. My heart broke with this family.

In my life I have had many pains. One of those pains included losing an unborn child myself. I did not carry this child to term as this mommy did. I have no idea if mine was a boy or a girl. But I do know the horror of having a doctor look you in the eye and tell you that what you believed and all you had hoped for would not be.

The passage in Second Corinthians, chapter 2 verses 3 to 4 comes to mind at a time like this. “All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” (NLT) I’ve always had mixed feelings about this passage. I ask myself why it is that any of us should need comfort in the first place? Why this horrible, inexplicable, pain and suffering that some are asked to endure? But in a moment like that moment last night, I find great comfort in the fact that I can truly look these parents in the eye and tell them “I know your pain. I know that it feels like you will just die from it. I have been there too. I’m so sorry.”

The job of washing a little body whose soul has left is such a terrible, painful thing. But I did it. I helped the mother hold her son as she told him goodbye while at the same time hardly believing it could be possible. Her head to his forehead and the tears falling unchecked. I prayed with the family. I asked that God would be the God of all comfort and peace. That they would know His presence and have the assurance that their baby is in the presence of God himself. I looked both parents in the eye and said very clearly THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT! I encouraged them to comfort and hold each other as they walk through this unspeakable pain.

As I left them, extremely early this morning, they were discussing where they would bury their son. In this area you bury your loved ones in your backyard. They had recently moved to the area and are renting a small house about twenty minutes away. They don’t have their own property where they can lay their son to rest.

My short night was restless as I tossed and turned in my bed. But when I came fully awake I was overwhelmed with thankfulness that I could be there to weep with this family. That I have the honor and the privilege of stepping into peoples lives during their most horrific and vulnerable times. That God can use me as His instrument of peace during times of storms and crises.

*This is a re-post from founder and executive director Michelle Kiprop’s personal blog and was originally shared in 2013.

A Summer of Outreach

IMG_4802We just said goodbye to our volunteers from Kingsburg Community Church in CA. They helped us run a series of medical outreaches. IMG_4851

With the team’s help, we were able to see approximately 400 patients in our outreach clinics in just one week! Patients were tested for diabetes and high blood pressure as well as getting eye-exams and reading glasses.

 

 

The team also had the opportunity to do special health education in a large primary school. One of the highlights was being able to share the Jesus film in several different venues.

 

 

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Another special experience was feeding over 200 children lunch in the slums of Turbo after a special program and gospel presentation.

 

 

IMG_4841One of our team members has been living with diabetes for over four-decades. She was able to encourage patients to not fear testing and treatment. It was beautiful to see the skills and personal life experiences come into play to minister to the sick and hurting here in Kenya. IMG_4846

 

Glasses were distributed to those who hadn’t been able to see well or read in years. We also had a number of patients with complicated medical issues whom we were able to refer back to our medical center for more comprehensive treatment.

IMG_4860We want to give thanks to each of you who pray for and financially support this ministry. You are greatly appreciated! Please keep an eye on this blog for regular prayer updates. And if you would like to financially support the work we are doing in Kenya, please click here.

July/August 2015 Prayer Points

IMG_3986bWell the summer is flying by here in Kenya. Here are some ways you can be praying for us this month and next:

  • The Village of Hope Medical Centre is exploding with growth! Word is out that medical and laboratory services are available and the patient flow has been very high. Some days it’s hard for the providers to find time to grab a bite of lunch to eat! Give thanks for the many patients who are receiving care at the medical centre. Pray with us that the Lord will open doors for additional space and staff as we are already outgrowing our current facility and are in need of more hands to help treat the high volume of patients.
  • We were extremely blessed by our Nursing Team from Kingsburg Community Church. They taught two courses of Helping Babies Breathe in which we saw 37 providers receive certification in this critical skill. Give thanks for all they accomplished and pray that the providers will not forget what they have learned, and that lives can be saved as a result of their training.
  • Our next team is en-route to Kenya I type this. This team from Kingsburg Community Church will be involved in several major optometry/diabetes/hypertension outreaches. They have a very busy schedule during their time in Kenya and will be serving with us from the 21st through 28th of July. Pray that they will be strong and effective in their ministry.
  • In August we will have an intern from Canada serving with us for two weeks to help our staff transition into an electronic form of patient record keeping. This is a huge undertaking! Pray for her and the staff as they take on this huge task.
  • We have learned that the soonest our patient Ann might be able to have her open-heart surgery would be October. This is because of the level of complication to her case and the need for an American surgeon to perform the procedure. Her condition is deteriorating and I have some concerns whether or not she will be strong enough for surgery when fall comes. Please pray for God to be in the middle of this difficult situation.
  • We have been blessed to have a major Hope Advocate named Kim taking on a huge task to benefit our ministry. She is running from the American/Canadian border all the way to Alaska to raise funds. You can read more about her journey here: Alaska or Bust! Please pray for her safety and success on this huge endeavor! Pray that her efforts will be fruitful and that our ministry in Kenya will be blessed.
  • We are still trying to raise the funds needed to bring our shipment of medical supplies over to Kenya. As the health ministry is really taking off, it would be a huge advantage to have access to these supplies. Pray that the floodgates of heaven might be opened so that we can get this equipment shipped to us where it can be put to good use!

We value your prayers and support! Please let us know if there is any way that we can be praying for you this season! You can contact us at office@hopemattersintl.org Thanks!

Kingsburg Nurses Team

IMG_4254We are loving having our team from Kingsburg Community Church here serving alongside us. The nurses are teaching courses about helping newborns to breathe for healthcare providers and reproductive health workers. Our non-nurse on the team has been incredibly helpful with various projects around the clinic from painting to installing flooring! For pictures and daily updates on their activities please check out our facebook page by clicking here.