Helpful Advice for Doctors Visiting Kenya

From C. Bradley Bowman, M.D.

First Published April 2012

BRAD BOWMAN, MDI have had the honor of serving as visiting surgeon at the Lighthouse Mission on three separate trips over the past 7 years. These trips have been such a blessing to me and I have certainly grown very fond of this very special mission and its staff. As you prepare to travel to Mombasa, I would like to provide you with a brief note of encouragement and advice.

As you probably know, medical mission work can be both very rewarding and sometimes very frustrating. Here in the U.S., we have such great access to state-of-the-art technology, highly trained staff, and highly efficient ASCs. When you get on that airplane for your long trip to Kenya, you need to re-adjust your expectations. “You are not in Kansas Anymore”.

Although our efficiency has improved dramatically over the past few years with the addition of our beautiful new clinic and O.R. facilities, things just tend to move slower in Kenya. Please feel free to provide advice that may be helpful, but also realize that you are in a different culture you may just have to relax and “go with the flow”.

The Lighthouse Mission is a fully staffed eye center with two full-time Kenyan ophthalmologists. Our Kenyan doctors are very skilled, hard working, and just all-around great guys. Each year the highlight of my trip is time spent with our talented national doctors. As a visiting doctor/surgeon, the greatest thing you can do for our mission is to teach, encourage, and inspire our young Kenyan doctors.

The Lighthouse Mission is not the best place to come if you are looking for a high volume surgical mission experience. On a good day, our center might perform 15 to 20 cataract surgeries. Because our mission is open year round, we can maintain a workable surgical volume each week and easily keep up with the need. Our Kenyan surgeons are working hard to perfect their phacoemulsification skills and are eager to learn from you. Spending a few hours teaching some “pearls” to our docs can eventually benefit more patients than doing big volumes of surgery yourself, i.e. “give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime”.

On behalf the board of directors I want to thank you giving your time and sharing your gifts with our mission. We understand the great sacrifice you are making to leave your work and your family to come to the Lighthouse Mission and help us grow God’s Kingdom. I know you will be truly blessed by your experience, and like me, I suspect you will fall in love with this place. God bless you and your family.