Dan, Heather, Jeremiah, Tory, Emma, Tye, Claire, Levi, Josie, Jane and Ethan

Monday, September 16, 2013

Karibu Tena Tenwek!

During my whirlwind two week trip to Kenya (having just returned to the U.S. a few days ago), I must have heard the words “Karibu tena Dakari” (meaning “welcome back Doctor!” in Kiswahili) more than 100 times.  It really felt good to be greeted by so many people who (at least) appeared to have significantly missed me while I was away these past six months of furlough, and to experience again the sights and smells of the place that our family has now come to call “home.”   

Two days after arrival, I dropped Jeremiah off for his junior year (!) at the Rift Valley Academy, said goodbye (yet again) and then headed to Tenwek with Dr. Will Moore, newly graduated orthopedic resident (who traveled with us to Kenya) and our new partner at Tenwek for at least the next two years (joining Dr. Kiprono and I, who, I am convinced, had a tear in his eye when he saw the two of us on early morning rounds the following day).
Jeremiah in his new dorm room, with his Vitamix...for making protein shakes, and perhaps a few smoothies for the ladies...

Dr. Will Moore with one of his first patients at Tenwek.  I can't tell you how glad I am to have him with us!  Karibu sana Will!!
Not operating much over the past months, it also felt good to “be back in the saddle.”   After a long day of surgery, I was greeted with another hearty “Karibu sana” after which I was told about a young man in Casualty who was walking along the side of the road, just a few kilometers from Tenwek, when we was struck by a lori (semi-truck).  I ran into emergency room, and saw a large group of clinicians around this poor man, who was truly a horrific mess.  The impact had caused an “open book” pelvic fracture, accompanied by a large open wound in his groin, a left anterior hip dislocation, a mangled right leg, an open right knee dislocation, a humerus fracture, and a large avulsion of the entire right side of his face.  After several hours of surgery well into the evening (including an emergency amputation and external fixator to hold his pelvis closed), unfortunately, the man succumbed to his injuries.  I couldn’t help but think this man was someone’s son, brother, father, husband.  I certainly don’t miss the senseless myriad of road trauma at Tenwek. 
Pelvic x-ray showing "open book" pelvic fracture, with left anterior hip dislocation.

The following day, Dr. Kiprono and I traveled to Nairobi (with a team of PAACS general surgery residents) to take our written exams for Fellowship in the College of Surgeons of East, Central and South Africa (COSECSA), in preparation for the start of our new COSECSA-accredited, PAACS-affiliated (pan-African Academy of Christians Surgeons) orthopedic residency program.   The morning of this exam, ironically, I received, via email, my results from the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery exam (passed…again!), which gave me a boost to take this African exam (in some ways more difficult with a large essay section, and interestingly worded multiple choice questions).  On the way back to Tenwek, Kiprono and I stopped to view the wreckage of a bus crash which made international headlines just a few days before our arrival in Kenya.  The bus, sorely overloaded with people and cargo, traveling after midnight to avoid the law, lost control on a steep curve, careened over a “guardrail” and rolled several times, ripping off the entire top half of the bus.  42 people lost their lives. Again, hard to process the senselessness…
The other Tenwek-PAACS General Surgery residents who traveled with us to take their separate COSECSA exams.  Fun times all stuffed into the Landrover!
Dr. Kiprono and I just after our COSECSA fellowship exam in orthopedics. Glad it's done!
42 souls lost their lives...only 26 survivors. 

Hair-pin turn on steep slope where bus lost control and rolled several times.
Another few busy days at Tenwek were met with multiple meetings with various persons and staff.  Plans for a new Galat guest apartment/ministry area were drawn after midnight, and entered into the approval pipeline for hopeful soon commencement.  Most significantly, the day before I left to return to the states, the Tenwek Medical Education Committee met and officially approved the start of our new orthopedic residency, the culmination of years of vision and planning.

“Karibu sana” became “kwa heri” (goodbye) as my two week trip came to a close, and I traveled back to the U.S., greatly excited to see my family again, especially baby Josie (who, by the way, put on a significant amount of “chub” while I was away).  The greetings will return again, however, as exactly two weeks from today, we all return home, as a family, for our third term at Tenwek Hospital. 
"Chuma" our dog, well cared for by the Roberts family, eagerly awaits the arrival of our full family in a few weeks!!
Baby Josie at one month.

Overall, I am amazed at the sheer volume of incredible things God has accomplished over the past several years since heading to Tenwek in 2008, and these things stand as a testimony of His goodness and grace in the lives people who are so far from deserving.  And per God’s design of “partnership,” all this has been possible only through the prayers, financial support, and encouragement of many people who have joined us in this work to serve the underserved in Kenya.  Thank you! 
If you would like information on how to partner with us in this next term, as there are many areas of opportunity (i.e. sponsorship of new Tenwek PAACS/COSECSA orthopedic residents, the Orthopedic Compassionate Care Fund for financially needy patients, a new housing complex for Kenyan interns and medical students, and/or support of our family) shoot me an email at dgalat@gmail.com! Thanks for all your love and support!