There is a passion in our heart for Africa that cannot be ignored. It was ignited first in Cameroon in 1975-80 when we worked in a mobile clinic. Over the years Africa has continued to tug at our hearts. Our long term goal has always been to return to Africa.
Mark chose an OB/GYN residency in 1982 with the knowledge that maternal deaths are the leading cause of mortality in women in Africa. Along the way our five children were born (two in Cameroon) and we stayed in the states to raise our kids and practice in a private practice in Muskegon, Michigan for 24 years.
Today all five children, Joshua, Anna-Maria, Miriam, David, and Sara have graduated from college. Joshua and his wife Simone and their four children are currently living in Addis Abba, Ethiopia and working for the U.S. government. Anna-Maria is working on her PhD at the University of Pittsburgh. Miriam is married to Chris and they reside in Johannesburg, South Africa with three children. Our youngest son David and his wife Betsy and their two children live in Waco, TX and our youngest daughter, Sara, is holding the fort down at our home base in North Muskegon, MI. All of our children and their spouses are faithful followers of Jesus. In 2003 Allison went back to college and graduated from Grand Valley State University with a secondary teaching degree in History and English. We made the move to Soddo Christian Hospital in August of 2010.
In 2007 we began to search for a hospital where we could do long term work. We attended the World Medical Mission Conference in Louisville, KY and learned about PAACS, the Pan African Academy of Christian Surgeon’s residency programs that were starting up all over Africa. These residencies train Christian African doctors in surgery with the anticipation that they will remain in Africa.
Mark has been a resident trainer for the past 24 years and understands the importance of duplication. We know that one person can only accomplish so much, but by teaching others to do your work you can duplicate yourself over and over. Soddo Christian Hospital in Soddo, Ethiopia had a residency program and we decided to take a look.
Ethiopia is an emerging democracy, moving energetically forward after years in a crushing and cruel dictatorship. English is now the second language and is required in all secondary schools. Even though the official language is Amharic, the official language of high school and college is English.
The improvement of maternal health care is dear to our hearts. In Ethiopia the statistics are grim. We hope to try and assist in improving the maternal outcome for women.
ETHIOPIA KEY FACTS
- Approximately 85 million people
- 15th most populated country in the world
- 9th highest birth rate in the world
- Life expectancy of approximately 50 years
- Gross National Income Average: $630 per year