Monthly Archives: October 2013

Meet Mary: She’s Climbing for a Cause


Today we have the pleasure of a guest post from Mary. She shares her story here:


Meet Mary: My name is Mary Saugstad. I am a Canadian, an RN, a climber, a naturalist, a wife, a volunteer, a traveler and a humanitarian. For the first time in my life all these labels that ‘I am,’ will all be intertwined in an adventure of a lifetime in Africa! I will be climbing with my husband throughout Africa, with a particular goal of climbing to the top of Mt. Kenya in an effort to raise awareness of the beauty of Kenyan mountain culture and humanitarian relief needs in Kenya.

The Back-Story: We decided to climb Mt. Kenya after spending a few months in Nepal trekking through the beautiful Himalayas and spending 2 months volunteering with Porters’ Protection. After our trip we said to each other that Africa is next … Mt. Kenya will be our goal. So this adventure has been brewing in our heads for the last six years. On a personal level, I have always valued volunteerism in any community and made a commitment to myself that I will volunteer my time and my resources on every travelling adventure that I embark on. One of my major driving ambitions to becoming a nurse is to use my nursing skills in promoting health around the world.

My particular connection with Hope Matters International began in 2012. I shared my passion for community health in Africa to my nursing community health practicum instructor Denise Beaupre, who has been involved in several community health initiatives in Africa. We met for coffee a few times and after much discussion she referred me to Michelle Kiprop, RN, MSN, FNP. And now a little idea of mine will spring into fruition in December, when I will finally get to meet Michelle in person in Kipkaren, Kenya where I will volunteer as an RN alongside Michelle.

The Cause: My husband, Don, and I decided that it would be a neat idea to add value to our climb by trying to raise funds for Hope Matters International. This initiative of ours is in hopes of raising awareness of the beauty of mountain culture in Kenya, and raise awareness to the importance of community involvement in the areas that we travel to. We believe that as members of this wonderful world we have the duty to share our resources to help build communities. We hope to raise $17,057 for Hope Matters International to help fund Michelle’s medical clinic initiative in Kenya.

mountain_hiking_bootsDetails of the Climb: 17,057 is the number of feet of Mt. Kenya. This is equivalent to 5199 metres. We will likely hire porters and perhaps cooks, and maybe a guide. My husband is an expert mountaineer having climbed several mountains all over the world for the last 20 years. I started climbing in 2005. We have been training for this climb all summer by climbing in our local crags in Squamish, BC and summiting a few mountains the last two years, including Squamish’s Stewamus Chief, a 700m granite monolith. We will also train in Cape Town climbing Table Mountain and several other crags in Africa as well as trekking through various parts of Africa including Drakensburg, in Botswana and perhaps Namibia from November until the start of our climb up Mt. Kenya around November 30/December 1. Likely, the climb will take about 1 week including trekking to base camp and acclimatization. We are going to try to attempt the Normal Route to the top of Mt. Kenya which is a 5.8 route. The actual climb itself is about 400 metres, which equates to about 20 pitches of climbing.

The Goal: So far we have raised approximately $1000 by simply sharing our objectives to family and friends. When we get back from our trip we will organize two film nights: one in Squamish and one in Vancouver to share our adventure, raise awareness of Michelle’s health initiative and hopefully raise funds. We will not stop until we get to the $17,057. We are now only two and half weeks away from embarking on our adventure of a lifetime and truly look forward to it. We feel so fortunate to have the health and the means to be able to go on this trip. I truly look forward to volunteering with Michelle and giving back to a community that I know will give so much to me and to my husband.

How You Can Help: Donations can be made in honor of my climb by clicking here to make an online payment. Or if you would like to send a check you can make it out to “Hope Matters International” and mail to P.O. Box 9293, Alta Loma, CA 91701. Please include a note in your envelope or with your electronic donation designating that the donation is in honor of Mary’s climb.


Thank you for reading this blog. And thank you to all my family and friends who have so far supported this initiative.



Mary Saugstad, RN


To The Ends of the Earth

IMG_0920I recently had the opportunity to travel along with my son Ryan, and volunteer nurse practitioner Elizabeth Robison, to what felt like the ends of the earth. We had been invited to partner for a week with Africa Inland Mission to conduct trainings in remote tribal areas of Northern Kenya (towards the Ethiopian Border).


Dirt Landing Strip (photo: E. Robison)


We flew in via chartered plane and landed on a dirt airstrip in the middle of the desert. As we flew over the landscape I remember thinking that it felt like I was landing on another planet.


Birds-eye view of a traditional Rendille Village (Photo: E. Robison)



We were able to hold basic health and first aid courses in two different villages. One for the Samburu people and another for the Rendille. These are people groups who have to travel many hours to get to the nearest hospital. And that is only possible if they can access a vehicle. The closest place to catch a bus or public transportation is 175 km away!

During our second training there were participants who walked three hours each way just to attend the class. That’s six hours of walking under the desert sun! During our lecture about heat-exhaustion and heat stroke I was thinking about our participants who were risking this very condition each day just to get to class.

IMG_0883 IMG_0625

Here are just a few of the statements made about the course:


Learning to Splint a Broken Arm

“I never knew that some of the things we were doing were causing more harm than good. Thank you so much for teaching us the better way. We will do as you have taught us” – Course Participant

“Thank you for sharing this information with us. We are so far from a hospital, and it is hard sometimes to know how to help someone who is having an emergency.” - Course Participant


Finding the Position to Perform CPR

“I cannot express enough my gratitude for the courses you held here. I am still hearing such praises about it all from the people here in Korr. Everytime I run into one of your students they are thanking you and praying for your return. I talked to Mary and she was telling me that many other people in Korr really wanted to attend the course, but understood that there was a list of selected people*. Mary’s response was so encouraging; she told these people, “We will teach you. We have learned how to teach others; just come to our house and we will teach you.” Everyone that has passed through her home has received information on choking, burns, bleeding..etc. It makes me so happy to see everyone so excited about what they have learned.” - Hosting Missionary


Samburu Man Collecting Supplies for Practical Exercises (photo: E. Robison)


*Courses were limited to 25 students per class due to limited funding. The participants were selected strategically to represent different areas. There were teachers from a number of different schools who were selected because of their position working with children.



Bringing the Goats to Water (Photo: E. Robison)


Outside Mary’s Home (Photo: E. Robison)

On our last day we were able to visit a special lady named Mary in her traditional Rendille home in a nearby village. She shared with me about the needs of pregnant women and midwives. Because there is no nearby hospital, women give birth in their homes on cow-hides. She shared with me that the Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA’s) would love the opportunity to attend a formal training course to broaden their skills. During our basic health classes there were a number of questions about childbirth that came up, and just not enough time to go in-depth with answers. With my passion for women’s healthcare I was truly moved. Would you pray with me that God would open the doors for me to take a course to these ladies sometime next year?


Inside Mary’s Home (Photo: E. Robison)

October Prayer Report


Here are ways to pray in October:

  • Give thanks for three successful First Aid Trainings in September. Over 100 individuals received completion certificates. We have received from one of the trainings in Northern Kenya that the graduates are now holding training sessions in their homes to share their new life-saving knowledge with their friends and neighbors!
  • The trip to Northern Kenya was a huge success. Praise the Lord with us for all that was accomplished, the lives that were touched, and for the safety He granted during the entire experience. Keep your eyes open for a blog report about this trip coming soon.
  • Pray with us for safety and a smooth journey as William, Michelle and Ryan travel to the USA this month. With twenty hours of airtime (plus layovers) it’s a long and tiring journey for anyone, let alone an active two-year-old.
  • On October 26th we will have a special launch event in CA for the ministry of Hope Matters. Pray for God’s hand to be on this event.
  • The Kiprop family will be in the USA for about six weeks. Please pray for their time and for many opportunities to share about the vision and work that Hope Matters is doing in Africa. Also pray for energy to keep up with their busy schedule!
  • Pray that God opens the floodgates and that every financial need for Hope Matters will be met as He moves hearts to partner with the ministry.

Thank you for standing with us in prayer. Please know that we pray for our prayer and financial partners too! If you would like to contact us with a prayer request please write to