Monday, December 2, 2019

Violet, Yves, and Mercy: The Gifts That Will Keep Giving

This time of year, there are abundant opportunities for generosity as so many take the time to intentionally reflect on blessings in this season of gratitude and gift-giving. One of the greatest blessings that we have is to be part of training and discipling an incredible group of surgeons. And we are filled with gratitude for those of you who invest in this work and allow us to be here. In this season, as you look for opportunities to invest and give generously, would you consider helping to train a surgeon for sub-Saharan Africa?

Spiritual Retreat in October

Consider the statistics:


  • 5 billion people in the world lack access to safe surgical care. The world population is 7 billion.
  • In rural Africa, there is on average one surgeon for every 1 million people (this would be as if the state of New York had 20 surgeons - in reality, there are more than 4,300 surgeons).
  • The best way to allow for sustainable surgical care in sub-Saharan Africa is to train national surgeons to provide quality surgical care. In Kenya, it costs about $100,000 to train a surgeon compared to $1 million to train a surgeon in the US.
  • To date, Tenwek has graduated 14 general surgeons and 2 orthopedic surgeons, with one more of each graduating this December.
  • 100% of our graduates live and work in Kenya, all participating in education of medical students, interns and/or surgical residents.
  • Many of our graduates work in places where there would otherwise not be surgical care were it not for their presence.
  • In 2020, a hospital in Kenya, will begin its a new surgical training program staffed by 3 of our general surgery graduates and 1 of our orthopedic surgery graduates. This training program will be the first surgical residency run by all graduates of our program and represents a significant milestone for Tenwek.


But beyond the statistics are real people - individuals with a desire to love God and serve others through surgical care. I'd like to take a few minutes to introduce you to our three new general surgery trainees who will begin their training this January. All three of them have been serving here at Tenwek in various capacities over the past two years. Each of these new residents is a dedicated and capable individual, and we look forward to the opportunity to invest in their lives, both in their growth as surgeons and in their maturation as Christ followers. To help you get to know them, I asked each of them to briefly answer three questions: 1. Why do you want to do surgery? 2. What do you see yourself doing after training? and 3. What does a position in the Tenwek surgical residency program mean to you?

Violet Otoki


Violet Otoki: Violet has served as a medical officer (general practitioner) as part of our cardiothoracic surgical team for the past two years and desires to pursue formal surgical training. Violet says:

1. I have been a sickly child for a bigger part of my life, battling with allergies and reactive airway disease. I had tonsillectomy done and when I got to see one being done during my elective year, I wanted to see and learn more in and about surgeries.

2. I would to continue practicing and serving where The Lord calls me to. I have a burden for those particularly with cardiac diseases, and if God wills it, that is where I would like to serve.

3. Tenwek, being a Christian institution, provides ground for both professional growth and spiritual ministry, both to me, being core in the service I hope to provide as a doctor.

Yves Yankunze


Yves Yankunze: Yves is our first Burundian trainee. Burundi currently has 14 surgeons for 10 million people, with the majority of those surgeons living and working in the capital city. Yves has also served at Tenwek for two years as a medical officer on the cardiothoracic surgery service with a dream of ultimately training in surgery.


1. In Burundi, as in most of Third World countries, access to surgical care is a big challenge. I feel like I am called to be part of those who are contributing to fill this gap.

2. After training, I want to go back to Burundi to practice surgery and help train the next generation of Burundian surgeons.

3. To me, Tenwek surgical residency program is a very unique place in sub-Saharan Africa where you can find permanent and visiting surgeons highly skilled and committed to pass their knowledge and skills to residents. I am blessed to be part of this program and I am sure that at the end of my training I will be not only a good surgeon but also a mature disciple ready to share the love of Christ to the most in need.

Mercy Mitei


Mercy Mitei: Mercy has served as a medical officer for two years with the OB/Gyn team here at Tenwek with an ultimate goal of pursuing general surgery training.

1. I love surgery because it combines a quest for knowledge with a way to serve, to save lives, and to alleviate suffering. I have chosen to pursue General Surgery in particular because it will help me provide a wide spectrum of care to patients across all ages.

2. After my training, I would be happy to work in a surgically needy area. There is a great need for surgical services in sub-Saharan Africa, including Kenya. My hope would be to help bring surgical services close to the people who need it most. I am confident that God order my steps for the next step after residency.

3. This is a precious God-given opportunity to acquire not only surgical knowledge and skills, but also spiritual mentorship necessary for service as a Christian surgeon.

As you can see, these applicants are incredibly gifted and will quickly contribute to the residency program. As we look forward to what these next five years will bring, would you consider supporting these new trainees as they begin their surgical training? As mentioned above, in Kenya, it costs about $100,000 to fully train a resident. This covers their stipend, room and board, and other associated costs. Over his or her lifetime, a surgeon will perform about 10-15,000 surgeries, meaning that the cost is only $10 per surgery enabled.

One-time or sustaining gifts can be given at https://www.wgm.org/project/residencyprogram and 100% of your tax-deductible donation goes to supporting the trainees.

May you be richly blessed in this season even as you bless others!

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