Sunday, April 27, 2014

My marathon experience, my appreciation!

It is hard to believe it has already been two weeks since the marathon!  I can honestly say that it was a much more enjoyable experience than I ever anticipated it to be, and that is largely attributed to you and all of your encouragement and support along the way.  For those of you who would like to hear about how the actual event unfolded, please keep reading—I would love to share the experience with you!  My greatest worry going into the run was not that I wouldn’t be able to finish, but that the pain in my hip and knee that I dealt with throughout my entire training would cause me to limp my way across the finish line in extreme pain.  I had mentally prepared myself for this, but had also asked a lot of people to specifically pray for no pain throughout the race.

One of our staff demonstrates how to use the Personal Protective Equipment in the
event of encountering a person suspected of having Ebola
When I left Liberia for the marathon, we were in the middle of responding to the Ebola outbreak that had occurred in Guinea and spilled over into Liberia.  Our dependents and children of expat staff had left the country, and all hands were on deck to assist in a massive awareness campaign to get the word out about the disease, as well as preventions to take.  On one hand it was very hard to leave the team, but on the other hand, so many months of training and preparation had gone into it, that it was important to finish it out.  Unfortunately, Kendell was not able to come as originally planned, as he was needed on the ground in Liberia to lead the team.  Our response to the Ebola outbreak just highlighted the need for clean water, as well as proper medical facilities- the very two projects we were running to raise money for. 

Jamie and I heading out for the starting line!

My view at the starting line... oh the number of people!

The London Marathon is incredibly organized- I guess it has to be with 36,000 runners!  In fact, when the gun went off, it took me 23 minutes to even reach the starting line!  I kept telling myself, “Only 26 miles today. Only 26 miles today.”  Once I finally crossed the start line, it was hard to stay my scheduled pace, as everyone was so excited that they took off running really fast!  Thank goodness for a watch that tells me my pace, because I watched it very closely as the race began to not tire myself out faster than I should.

Coming in for some high-fives at mile 6!
(Photo by Christopher Laird)
Mile 6 was my first sighting of our SP cheering squad!  It was amazing to have thousands of people along the route cheering for you, but it sure gave an extra dose of energy to see two Liberian flags and familiar faces cheering for me!  I was feeling great!

The Tower Bridge

Adrenaline was still carrying me!
 I think one of my favorite places of the race was just before the half- approaching and crossing the Tower Bridge.  Just the grandeur of the bridge was surreal for this small –town Iowa girl to be running across.  Just after the bridge is the 13.1 mile marker- half way through.  The excitement of running over the bridge quickly faded as my body soon realized the journey ahead.  It was as if all the adrenaline faded away… and the real work was about to begin.

Getting my energy hug from Isaac.
(Photo by Faith Spinks)

Thankfully, the SP crew was waiting for me at mile 14.  I made a quick stop to say hello and receive a hug from Isaac, and let them know that adrenaline had carried me so far, but now it was time to pray!  At mile 15 I needed to use the restroom, and unfortunately stood in line for at least 15 minutes!  After waiting for 10 minutes I was tempted to just start running again, but figured if I had already committed to 10 minutes, I would be best for me to just wait it out, rather then stand in line at another mile marker down the road.

Never thought I would say I enjoyed running a marathon!
One thing that surprised me as I ran was the overwhelming emotions that I felt.  I had anticipated some emotion at completing the race, but didn’t expect it as I ran.  Several times along the way I would find myself brought to tears thinking about the overwhelming encouragement and support from family and friends- both at home and in Liberia, as well as our staff who were working tirelessly day in and day out to spread the message of Ebola, and the impact that all of the donations received would make- not only physically, but more importantly, spiritually.  An eternal impact. 

As I was passing mile 17, I felt my first sign of pain in my left knee.  I quickly reached for my Tylenol I was carrying and within minutes it kicked in.  Mile 18 was approaching quickly, and I began to get worried.  A month before the marathon I had come down with malaria.  That weekend I was sick was my scheduled 20-mile run.  So I had never gone past 18 miles in my training, and I didn’t know how my body would react past that point.  Well, God was again gracious, as mile after mile I still felt strong!  During the entire race I did a run-walk system- run for 10 minutes, walk for 2, etc.  Each time I started up running again I could tell my body was getting stiff, but once I was running, I really felt good.

Mile 21- stopping to say hi to the SP cheering squad. Starting to feel stiff... but doing well!

At mile 21 I again was able to see the SP cheering squad, and let them know that I was doing well- getting stiff, but all in all doing well.  As soon as I took off, they jumped on the train to meet me at the finish!

I really was surprised at my body and how good it felt after 20+ miles.  In fact, I was reaching the 23 mile mark and I even considered skipping my run/walk system and just finishing the whole thing out.  That may have been a bit ambitious, and God knew it- because when it was time for me to walk and I wanted to keep running, he literally blocked my path with people walking and I couldn’t get through!  So I continued with my regular plan.

Running along the Embankment, to the left is the London Eye, and Big Ben is up ahead.

At mile 24 my feet really started to get sore- again, I was shocked that it took that long, and that it was only my feet!  Mile 25 is all along the Embankment road, which runs parallel to the Thames river, where the famous London Eye overlooks the city, and as you run you are running straight towards Big Ben.  It was getting more difficult to enjoy the scenery at this point, but I was able to force myself to look around and take it in, no matter how sore and stiff my feet were.  Once you reach Big Ben, you make a right turn and you are basically on the home stretch.  Past Westminster and one more turn before Buckingham Palace.  Just knowing that I was within a mile of completing a marathon brought a whole new wave of energy!

Oh what a joy it was to see this view!

Once the corner was turned there is a big sign over the road that states “Only 385 yards to go!”  Oh what a sweet welcome that sign was!  Just after the sign is Buckingham Palace and the last .2 of the marathon course.  Again, I had really anticipated and expected to be in so much pain at this point- doubled over, limping my way over the last section of the course.  But the opposite was true!  I felt strong, pain-free, and alert to take in all of the details as the marathon came to a close.  God is so, so gracious.

Taking in the last .2

I could literally feel the prayers as I ran.  The fact that I basically ran pain-free for 26.2 miles was no small miracle.  It was even more evident at the finish line.  The very second my left foot landed on the finish line is when all of the pain that I had anticipated from the very beginning came.  That very second my foot hit the ground… God is good.

The very step that ended the race and the pain began. So glad they got a picture of this step.

I finished! 5 hours and 33 minutes... including roughly 20 minutes of waiting in line for
the bathroom at miles 1 and 15!
Oh, He is so good.  The marathon journey was amazing.  The reason for running was even better-- to see friends, family and church congregations come together to make an eternal impact in Liberia is something even more incredible.  As of today, the total funds our team raised for our water projects and ELWA Hospital have reached over $31,000USD.  Praise and Glory be to God.

The SP Liberia runners- Jamie did an amazing job, finishing at 4 hours and 22 minutes-
beating her personal record by 16 minutes!

SPUK runners at the finish line.

Part of our cheering squad--Elizabeth and Bev.
Thank you so much for being a part of this marathon journey with me.  I can honestly say I couldn’t have done it without you, and that as I ran, I prayed for you as well.  I know a lot of you may never step foot in Liberia to see the wells or the new hospital that your money is going towards, but I pray that He will bless you for your willingness to give.  

If you missed the opportunity to donate, there is still time!  Just click on the link below, it's that easy... way easier than running 26.2 miles :)

If you are from the UK, my fundraising page address is:

If you are from the US/Canada, my fundraising page address is:

Sunday, March 23, 2014


Posted by Kendell

Last week I took a visitor from our headquarters up to our Foya base to see some of our projects; we arrived at 9:00am.  Our first visit was to see some of the WASH projects and as we were leaving the base I heard that one of our WASH had left ahead of us out to the field.  When I pressed them to tell me more she said that the WASH staff member had left the base at 5:00am in the morning in order to catch the beneficiaries in the village before they left for their farms.  I was humbled by our staff’s commitment to their work.  I have managed many people in various jobs but I am continually floored by the work of our amazing staff here in Liberia.  They are so committed to their work and it is because their work God continues to do great things through SP in Liberia. 
When we reached the community we were introduced to our community development facilitators, CDF’s, Liberian staff that are assigned to a cluster of villages to coordinate the work that SP does in each community in the cluster.  But more than this, these staff love, care, counsel, share the good news of Jesus and disciple community members whom they live with.  That’s right, these staff commit to leave their homes, family and comforts and live in the rural villages where SP works; they are true missionaries.  While Ma Zoe and Varfee (CDF’s) showed us around it was clear the community love them and they love the community!  I love my Liberian staff, they teach me every day how to be a better leader.
This morning we had our 16 mile run as we continue to train for the London Marathon.  My wife/coach, fellow runners Jamie and Joni, Rusty, Jamie’s husband, all left at 5:30am and headed out to a dirt road outside of town.   It is then 4 hours of work by all these people around me to get me through the 16 miles.  It might be having drinks and GU ready and in hand, it could be a smile while passing in the opposite direction, driving the support vehicle, telling me to get my butt going, or holding up a towel while I change my clothes (that would be my wife’s job  J).  The bottom line is there is no way I could have gotten as far as I have in my training without my team. 

Any good leader would say that he or she is only as good as the staff and team around them.  As a leader I have proven this statement over and over again.  A leader needs to set the vision, recruit a team that can achieve this vision and delegate outcomes and then let them do their job.   In the end we can all celebrate what we as a team have achieved.  A true leader will relish watching their team succeed more than their own success.  Leaders need their teams.
In three weeks I will attempt to complete the 26.2 miles at the London marathon.  It has and will take a team effort to get to the finish line.  I am doing it for many reasons but one is to raise money for the projects that my team implements in Liberia, projects that transform lives now and for eternity want you to be part of this great team!!  See links below to help our team.
If you are from the US/Canada, please use this link to donate:
If you are from the UK, please use this link:

Monday, March 17, 2014

Training Season...

Training season.  At the beginning of the year, many of our programs are in the training 'mode'.  Everyone is busy hiring and training new staff, training program staff on new curriculum, training staff on leadership and management of their programs...everywhere you look some sort of training is going on!

This past month I have had the opportunity to go to all three of our bases.  In Foya, the CLP (literacy program) spent a week training new trainers and facilitators as they prepare for so start their classes.  It was great to see our CLP management staff teaching, leading this great group of people through the different areas of the program; literacy, numeracy, business skills and Bible study.

CLP staff working hard during their training...
I walked past the CLP training to the next meeting room where another training workshop was being conducted.  This one was a training workshop on photography..."what?" I know sounds weird right?  But there are methods to our training madness! Every program has a responsibility to send pictures from the field (every program has a field camera) to Joni our Communications Manager.  Joni then collects these photos along with stories about the project or the people in the photos to send to our SP office and donors.  These are crucial.  This is our opportunity to SHOW and TELL our funding offices and donors the impact their investment is having in people's lives and for the Kingdom of God.  But we can't just send poorly taken pictures!  They have to be a certain size for the communications departments at SP and they need to be good enough to use.  Joni was being sent a lot of pictures, but not many of them could be used due to their quality-so, she has been giving our program managers and coordinators a one day workshop at each of the bases on how their camera works with all the settings, how to take good pictures and what information is needed for impact stories.

Joni teaching her 'area'
It was fun to watch the staff practice taking pictures of each other in different settings.  It was even funnier when Joni took every one's memory cards and put the pictures they took on the projector to 'grade' each others photography skills!  

I left the base to go and see the WASH training that was happening at a nearby church.  CMP and CDF staff that work in our communities in the area of WASH were also present to learn about our new WASH programming.  Having other program staff present helps with consistent messaging to our beneficiaries.
Taya and her staff at their training

The training didn't stop in Foya!  Last week Joni did another photograph workshop at our base in River Gee.  Here, in Monrovia as I type this our Program Development staff are training our program managers on monitoring and evaluation, activity planning and reporting just to name a few of the training topics!  

Building capacity within our staff is key for the success of our projects.  But it's more than that-we are investing in our staff so that they can continue the good work that God has started in them. For some the training is just for one day-but the skills they learn will last them a lifetime.  For others training is a week long, very intense-but at the end of it they are ready to head out to the field to implement their programs with confidence!

In running, training I believe, is more important than the race or run that you are training for.  Training is hard, very hard, it's the runs and work outs that take place in the early morning hours, when you are tired and don't feel like running.  These past couple of weeks our SP London marathon runners have been training hard.  I mean they are in the THICK of marathon training-anyone who has trained for a marathon knows what I am talking about.  Those long runs of 16, 18 and 20 mile runs.  The long week day runs-anywhere from 5-7  miles.

Two very tired runners training...
It's during training, when you realize how far you can push yourself physically and mentally.  It's during training that you realize that every long run is a run into new 'territory' and new mileage you have never run before.  It's during this training that you start to realize how strong you really are and that you can accomplish the goal set before you.  I love training-sounds weird but the journey that one goes through during training is amazing.  In every training season I learn something new about myself-how much more I can do how much more I can push through obstacles and focus on my goal.  Paul talks about this in Philippians chapter 3:12-14. Go look it up-great verses on perseverance and focusing on the goal that is ahead of us.  Training is all about this-pressing on-forgetting what is behind-and pressing onward to the goal that God has called us.
 Great quote by a great guy!
Pray for our staff who are going out, that they will trust the training they have received and be ready to do the job God has called them to do. Pray for our marathon runners that they will press on through their training as it gets harder. So that at the start of the London marathon they will be confident and trust the training and hard work and long hours they have put in.  To reach a goal or to do our jobs, training is necessary-but we have hope that when we do the work we can trust God to see us through to the finish.
For more information on how you can encourage our marathoners and give towards our SP Liberia hospital project and other projects please go to: 
It would be a HUGE encouragement for them if you gave! 

Sunday, March 2, 2014


Posted by Jamie:
 Earlier this week I came across these verses: 

Hebrews 12:11-13 -Discipline leads to Fruit
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.
                                               1 Timothy 4:8 - - Training and Godliness
for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
As I've reflected on these passages this week, I've been reminded how much discipline it has taken to get me to the place I am with my running. And that with continued discipline I can achieve even more but it has also reminded me that while physical discipline is important for my physical health; I also need to keep up with my spiritual disciplines. I keep thinking how amazing it is that I can train my body to run these long distances in the heat and humidity and not feel like I'm going to die! How is it that this training has become easy to keep up but my spiritual life is easily discarded at times? I have concluded that it is all about priorities. I have made running a priority and it has become a habit. This is my challenge for myself for the next six weeks as I finish up my training for the London marathon; put as much time into my spiritual life as I do my physical life.
Here is a glimpse into what we are doing for our physical training:
Most days training runs are done here on the ELWA campus. It's convenient, safe and has lovely scenery. Hard to beat running along a beautiful tropical beach. I especially love being able get up early, walk out my front door before it gets overly hot and get my run done. There is one major draw back when it comes to the long runs though. If I do a figure eight around the campus road it is about 1.75 miles. So, as you can imagine after a few laps it gets a bit monotonous! In an effort to change things up we decided to take our long Sunday training runs out to the road to Marshall. It is currently a dirt road that they are working on improving. For now the dirt road provides the benefit of being flat, fairly long and a bit more forgiving then the pavement. This is the third Sunday we've run the road. The first Sunday was great because it rained the night before and knocked down all the dust. Today we were not so lucky...
Just some small dust after a car went speeding by.
Many thanks to Bev for letting me use her Camelbak so I stay hydrated!
Joni and Bev synchronized running. 

Some interesting sights along the way.

Just finishing up my 12 miles.

Handmade construction sign :)
           Joni finishing up her 16 miles!  

We were missing Kendell today, who was up country and had to run solo this week. Please remember us in your prayers this week as we continue to up our miles. The heat and humidity can really take it's toll as can injury.
Remember we are doing all of this to raise money for SP Liberia's ELWA hospital project and it's Church Mobilization Program (CMP). Please read our previous posts for more information on these projects and consider donating! Thanks in advance for your help.
If you are from the UK, my fundraising page address is: 

If you are from the US/Canada, my fundraising page address is:

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Helping the Church Be the Church

Posted by Joni

On January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy concluded his Inaugural Address with the famous statement:

“Ask not what your country can do for you —

ask what you can do for your country.”

I stumbled across this statement today, and it reminded me a lot of what our Church Mobilization Program (CMP) is working towards.  In the areas we work in, it is very typical to find 2-3 different church denominations in a small village community, yet they will not work together or fellowship with each other because of denominational differences.  If denominational division isn’t a big enough problem, most Christians in the church believe they must not associate themselves with non-Christians.  The activities of the church benefit those that attend the church.  It is “in-reach” versus “out-reach.”

The CMP program, in short, takes pastors and church leaders through an envisioning curriculum, studying the life and ministry of Christ.  When looking at Christ’s ministry, He never addressed only the spiritual side of a person and left the physical, or healed them physically but didn’t address the spiritual. He always addressed both. CMP leads the pastors and leaders through a process of learning what Christ meant the Church to be- not divided, but united, and helping to reach out to the needs of their community, both physically and spiritually.

As a result, Pastors are realizing that even though there are denominational differences, if the church is serving Jesus Christ, we can be unified as Christians.

Church congregations are reaching out using their own resources, not to benefit their own church members, but to benefit the entire community as a whole, which in turn creates opportunities for the non-believers to ask “why are they doing this for us?”  For example, our CMP project in Lofa County focuses on broken hand-pumps.  Instead of Samaritan’s Purse coming in, fixing the hand pump and leaving the community, we are training members of the church on how to repair, maintain and service these hand pumps, so the Church can be the one to help restore the physical need of clean drinking water for the community. 

Samaritan’s Purse will not always be in Liberia, but the Church will remain after we leave.  We don’t want the community to see Samaritan’s Purse- we want them to see the Church reaching out, meeting those needs.  It is not about Samaritan’s Purse- it is about Jesus Christ.

The CMP project is helping the Liberian Church, reach Liberians.  “Ask not what your country can do for you…ask what you can do for your country.”

Exciting things happening through this project, please consider donating!

As for Marathon training, we are entering probably the most important three weeks of the training, with our longest runs looming ahead!  As we get deeper into the schedule, I have felt pain I have never had before… today my right hip was screaming at me!  Nothing some ice packs, stretches and a foam roller can’t cure… hopefully!  Last week Kendell and I entered in new territory with a 15 mile run, and this week we will increase that to 16.  Jamie continues to cruise by us on her 20 milers, with a smile on her face the entire way!  Please pray for us as we train in this dry season heat and humidity. It is HOT!  We keep telling ourselves that it will benefit us when we get to chilly London for the actual marathon…

Don’t forget to get in your donation, or to spread the word about how to get involved!

If you are from the UK, my fundraising page address is:

If you are from the US/Canada, my fundraising page address is:

Kendell and I at about the 4 out of 12 mile mark

Rusty and Jamie, synchronizing watches!

Made it- glad to be done for the day!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Humility and Leadership

 Posted by Kendell

Mercy, this training stuff is tough.  This week Joni and I ran 27 miles, hang on, that’s a marathon now if only they would allow me to run the London marathon over 7 days.  This morning’s run was crazy, it was 15 miles, that’s right Kendell covered 15 miles.   The run was incredibly tough, at the end of the run the temperature was 40 degrees Celsius or 104 degrees Fahrenheit (can you say sweat).  But I tell you all this to let you know that we continue to work towards our goal of running the London Marathon on April 13th, less than two months away (okay that is scary). 
The reason I am running the marathon is to raise money to support the projects that Samaritan’s Purse is undertaking here in Liberia.  So over the next few posts I want to highlight some of our projects.  But before I do that let me tell you that it is a privilege to work for Samaritan’s Purse (SP) an organization that is concerned not only for the person physical state but more importantly the person spiritual state.  This is why I have served in Liberia for the past 9 years. 
Let me tell you about our literacy project.  About 70% of the adults in rural Liberia cannot read or write at a first grade level and so some years back SP began a literacy project to change this statistic. This project is one of the coolest projects we do.  Seeing elderly women and men write their name for the first time with pride and restored dignity is inspirational.

The first thirty minutes of each class for both men and women is used to teach the Bible to the participants.  The major story this quarter is about the Love of God as it is being taught from the Four Essential Components of Salvation.  The message of the Love of God, demonstrated by sending His only Son to die for sinners, is the center of discussion for the participants.  One lady said, “if God loves me so much and can forgive me, I should also be willing to forgive others who wrong me.”  One older male participant confessed that he will change his hateful attitude toward his children because he has to express the love that God has for him to his own children.  Another participant (a Muslim lady) said that she has never heard that someone loved her so much to the point of dying in her place.
Hinnah Mgobeh is a 59 years old male participant of the Literacy class at Ngalahun 1&2.  Mr. Mgobeh, a Muslim from as far as he can remember, said that he thinks SP has something special.  According to him, he has never ever allowed anyone to tell him a word about Christianity but he is very surprised to see himself taking part in the Bible presentation during the classes.  He concluded by saying that he is not only a part of the Bible teaching time because he should but he is beginning to want to know more about the Bible.
Please pray for our Literacy project and donate to my effort to run the marathon ensure projects such as the literacy project continue.

Leadership thought………
Today before the 15 mile run I felt great (I looked great too by the way) but I must say the run seriously humbled me, I died at the end and I actually had to walk for 4 minutes in order to finish the run.  So I thought I should talk about humility and leadership.  Jesus taught that leadership requires humility and then He got down and washed his disciples feet and the birth of “servant leadership” happened.  As a leader you must be willing to humble yourself.  The quicker that a leader realizes that it is not about the leader the quicker the leader will begin to lead.  The reality is that as Christian leaders we understand that if it was not for the grace of God in our lives and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit we would not be able to do anything.  Recently I was teaching on Unity with my staff and it came to my mind and then confirmed in the Bible that unless humility is practiced unity is not possible.  I remember once I was enjoying a stretch of success as a leader and I was receiving compliments from some very important people and I really was struggling as to how I should handle these compliments.  So I phoned the wisest man I know, my dad, his counsel was so wise and was a lesson in humility I will never forget.  My dad said “accept the complement and as soon as you can deflect the praise to your staff and then to God, give the glory to whom it belongs, God”.  Great advice.  Leaders are humble.
“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.”
Abraham Lincoln

Please remember to join the team and donate.

If you are from the US/Canada, please use this link to donate:
If you are from the UK, please use this link:

Monday, February 10, 2014

Let's Look at the Facts

One of the most exciting aspects of getting to run the London Marathon is also getting to raise funds for the ELWA Hospital project. This is after all the reason we are currently in Liberia!  I've been doing a little research about health care here in Liberia and here are some statistics I found.

In Liberia there are approximately 28 hospitals and about 0.8 beds per 1000 people. To put this into perspective for you, the USA has approximately 16,000 hospitals and there are 5.4 beds per 1000 people. To break it down even more Washington State has around 100 hospitals with 14,650 beds, that’s 2.1 beds per 1000 people. Currently ELWA hospital is 1 of 7 hospitals in the greater Monrovia area, it has about 35 beds.

The current ELWA Hospital

Construction on the new hospital

When the first and major portion of the hospital is complete, hopefully by the end of 2014, it will have 80 beds. That’s an increase of 45 beds, which may seem small, but every bed means one more person can be treated. There is a potential for 130 beds at the new ELWA hospital, if funding becomes available for more wards. Keep in mind that ELWA hospital was constructed in 1965, when Monrovia had half as many people and ELWA was considered to be located in “the bush." A 30 bed hospital was big! Now days there are times when the beds are full and patients have to be sent to other hospitals (with no guarantee the next hospital will have an open bed) or sit in chairs in the hallways until something becomes available.  Medical equipment is hard to get and very much needed. That includes X-ray equipment, surgical equipment, lab equipment, etc.

Let’s talk about the number of physicians, Liberia has about 215 Doctors for a population of 3.9 million. The USA has just fewer than 750,000 doctors and WA State has about 23,000. That’s 0.05 doctors per 1000 people in Liberia compared to 2.4/1000 in the USA and in WA it’s 3.3/1000. There is only one orthopedic surgeon, only about 5 trained surgeons, and about 6 dentists. The country doesn't have a radiologist, a pathologist, no treatment for cancer, no neurosurgeon, etc... There is no place for a child to receive intensive care. Another government run hospital only has 2 ventilators and even those might not be working.

There is one place where a nurse anesthetist can be trained and even that is an informal program. There are very, very few trained specialists in the country. Most of the doctors have very cursory training—just medical school followed by an informal house job. Part of the lack of trained health care workers is due to the long civil war, professionals fled and have not returned. Another major reason for the lack of doctors in Liberia is that they haven't had a residency program until recently. The new government residency program is now training about 20 doctors at a time divided between four specialties, pediatrics, ObGyn, Internal medicine, and general surgery. 

ELWA hospital which is run by SIM (Serving In Mission)  is hoping to start the first family medicine residency program in the new facility! They hope to start with training two or three new physicians a year. Many of these doctors will be sent into areas in which there are no specialists. They will be trained to care for patients of all ages including newborns and geriatric patients. Their training will include both inpatient and outpatient care. They will learn some basic surgeries such as hernia repair and appendectomy. They will also have training in obstetrics and cesarean sections. ELWA currently has outstanding faculty members in General Surgery and Family Medicine and they will be recruiting more faculty to join in teaching these residents. It is their hope that in training family physicians for Liberia, they will make a longstanding impact on the care in many counties, towns and villages throughout Liberia.

Leading causes of death in Liberia are malaria, diarrhea and acute respiratory infections compared to the US; heart disease, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory infections. Many people in Liberia do not live long enough for heart disease, cancer and other such disease to become major factors in death, as average life expectancy is a mere 56 years. Liberia’s infant mortality rate is 71/1000 and maternal mortality rate is 7.7/1000.  The rate in the USA: infant 6.1/1000, maternal .21/1000 and in WA 4.5/1000 and .15/1000. According to UNICEF:
Liberia’s infant and under-5 mortality rates remain among the five highest in the world. More than 15 per cent of children die before reaching their first birthday.
Preventable diseases like malaria and measles are among the leading killers of children. Malnutrition and respiratory infections kill thousands of children each year.

So, how can you help? First, pass this on to all your family and friends. Second, click on one of the links below and donate! The more we raise the more we can do for the people of Liberia.

If you are from the UK, my fundraising page address is:

If you are from the US/Canada, my fundraising page address is: