Monday, August 14, 2017

Mbingo 2017 - August

We are at Mbingo and it is great to be back.  This is an update on what has been happening here.

This is Nora's first trip to Cameroon and she has been fully welcomed.  Many of our Cameroonian friends prayed hard for her when she was born unexpectedly with Transposition of the Great Arteries.  She had successful surgery at 6 days old and it was great to be able to share with our Mbingo friends how God provided healing for her.  The picture shows her with with some of the Cameroonians that came to our house for a party for the CIMS program (Christian Internal Medicine Specialization).

Malnutrition is a serious problem that is encountered often on the children's ward.  It is closely linked to extreme poverty and often requires a long hospital stay to get the child back to health.  The children require close medical care and nutritional supplements.  Education is also given to the parents on how to improve nutrition.  These WHO supplements are F-75, F-100, and F-150 (pictured) and are made here at Mbingo for the patients.  One of the problems is that these long hospital stays lead to bills that are difficult for the already poor families to pay.  There is now a dedicated Malnutrition Fund that seeks to raise money to lower the their hospital bills as a way to show God's love to these children and their families.  Donations are tax-deductible and are given through CHEF (Cameroon Health and Education Fund).  There is information on their website ( on how to give, but make sure you designate the Malnutrition Fund as the recipient of your donation as they have other projects in Cameroon.  If you have interest in donating towards this much needed service and have questions, please email us.

Jane Murry Bryan is a high school student from our church in Charlotte.  She traveled with us to Cameroon this year and has been helping us a ton.  She watches our kids part of the day and then volunteers or observes at the hospital in the afternoons.  Our kids love her and it has made it easier for both of us to work at the hospital more.  She has really been part of our family here!  She leaves today to get back for school and we are all going to miss her.

Jane Murry, Angela, Isaac, and Ben are in this picture giving small gifts (crayons, coloring books, toy cars, etc) to the children on the peds ward.  Isaac and Ben helped pick out and buy some of the gifts before we left Charlotte.  Jane Murry has also been coming some afternoons to read to the children on the ward from the Jesus Storybook Bible.  We brought enough copies that she can give them away after she reads as well.

This picture shows the first child at Mbingo to survive surgery for a tracheoesphageal fistula and esophageal atresia.  Angela helped take care of the baby after surgery in the ICU.  This condition requires a large surgery for repair and careful support of the child after surgery.  Yes, the child is in a Britax car seat.  One of the surgeons thought of this idea to help with positioning of the child and it seems to have made a big difference.  This was a car seat from one of the missionaries here at Mbingo, but Nora has decided that she will leave her old infant car seat here at Mbingo to help with future cases like this.

Dr. Nkweta (2nd year resident) has been rounding with Dr. Nyanga (CIMS graduate and now faculty) in the ICU.  Chuck has been rounding on the adult wards and also helping with more difficult cases in the ICU.  It is excellent to see the Cameroonian faculty like Dr. Nyanga teaching and mentoring the younger CIMS residents.  We continually see challenging cases and high volume, but it is encouraging to know that the future of Cameroonian healthcare is in the hands of doctors like this.

Just a few miles from Mbingo in the town of Bambui there is an orphanage that we knew about, but had not had the chance to visit until this trip.  The Schilinskis are the missionaries that helped found it and along with some Cameroonian staff, help run the orphanage.  It is a loving, nurturing, compassionate, Christian environment for the kids to grow up in.

This picture is out front of one of the orphanage houses.  Helping Hands Children's Home (HHCH) is set up with individual houses where the kids can have a family-like atmosphere.  Each house can hold 10 boys and 10 girls with a house parent as well as a house aunt/uncle that lives with them.  They currently have 38 kids at HHCH with the possibility of expanding to as large as 120 kids in the future as they expand their infrastructure.  We had a great visit and look forward to stopping by again.

It is rainy season here which means beautiful green mountains and clean air, but a lot of water.  Nora is checking the rain gauge and says it has been averaging almost an inch/day.  It usually comes for a period of time in the afternoon/evening, so we have plenty of clear weather too.

One of Isaac and Ben's favorite activities is drawing maps on big banana leaves.  Certainly one of the things that you don't get to do in Charlotte.

Dr. Tumi, a recent CIMS graduate and old neighbor of ours, recently came back to Mbingo to visit and stopped by our house.  Barry and Isaac seemed to remember each other and both families have added 2 more kids since that time.  The kids loved playing together and were sad when they had to leave.  It is great to hear how the CIMS graduates are working at different hospitals around the country and the difference they are making.

Jane Murry with our crew at the "Back Waterfall".  It was a great hike with a powerful waterfall given that we are in rainy season.  We will miss Jane Murry these next couple weeks.  You are welcome to come back with us to Cameroon anytime!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Mbingo 2017

Chuck just got back from a 2.5 week trip to Mbingo.  It was the first time Chuck has been to Mbingo without the family.  It was hard leaving Angela and the kids, but it was great to be back to see our "Mbingo family".  Here are a few photos from his time there.

Chuck and JR Young (pediatrician) traveled together to Mbingo this time.  JR is actually still there working for another 1.5 weeks.  Chuck came back sooner since we are planning on returning for about 6 weeks this summer (with Angela and the kids!).

Chuck brought an internal medicine resident with him from Charlotte.  This is Dr. Stephen Beasley rounding on the men's ward with 2 of the African internal medicine residents and a house officer.  Stephen is doing a great job and will be staying for another 1.5 weeks to finish his month long rotation.  He has been rounding/teaching on the wards, leading conferences, and doing procedures.

Stephen has already matched into a GI fellowship for next year.  This picture shows him trying to load the esophageal bands onto the six shooter by hand while Denis (endoscopy tech) looks on.  This device is used to treat esophageal varices (enlarged blood vessels in the esophagus at risk of bleeding usually from liver disease).  Chuck was able to start teaching him to do EGDs while at Mbingo and he continues to improve.  He will have plenty more time to learn endoscopy in fellowship, but this was his first and likely his last time to load the esophageal bands by hand!

Dr. Kamdem (recent CIMS graduate) who Chuck taught to do EGDs and colonoscopies has become quite proficient.  Here he is looking on as he teaches one of the 4th year CIMS residents, Dr. Christelle, to do an EGD.  This is incredibly exciting to see those residents that we have taught passing on their knowledge to the next group of residents.  This is happening on the wards, in clinic, in conferences, and with procedures.  God is using this residency program to affect the quality of medical care that Cameroonians will have in the future.

Chuck was able to spend some time with Dennis Palmer (CIMS program director) while at Mbingo.  Dennis was just returning from India where he was formalizing a partnership with the Christian Medical College at Vellore.  This is an incredible hospital that serves the Lord by providing medical care in India and is able to provide essentially all of the services we would expect from a large hospital in the US.  Our CIMS (Christian Internal Medicine Specialization) residents at Mbingo are going to be able to do 4-6 month rotations at this hospital as part of their training.  We are very excited about this opportunity.  Dr. Kamdem (pictured above) just returned from spending 3 months at Vellore to advance his GI technique in endoscopy.

Here are 3 of the 4 new CIMS residents.  From the left, Dr. Ntumsi, Dr. Nina, and Dr. Tadfor.  Unfortunately, Dr. Nkweta was on vacation and missed the picture.  These 4 residents have been a great addition to the CIMS program.  Chuck enjoyed working with each of them on the wards, in the ICU, and in conferences.

 This chest x-ray shows severe TB with a military pattern as well as cavitary lesions.  It is also notable that it is a picture of a computer screen.  Our digital x-ray at Mbingo is working well and is now being automatically uploaded to the new EMR system.  Dennis Palmer has put an incredible amount of work into this.  Most of us were doubtful that it would work given the other challenges we face at Mbingo, but it is working quite well.  We are even able to pull up a patient's labs and imaging on our smartphones/tablets at the bedside.

Some of our patients try traditional medicines/therapies before coming to our hospital.  Cutting is a type of traditional therapy in Cameroon.  Small cuts are made in the skin at the site of pain or swelling in the hope that it will offer relief.  We sometimes see the negative effects of this such as infection.  This picture show a patient's leg with the small cuts visible.  His leg was swollen from a blood clot (DVT) and the unpictured part of the leg also had cellulitis (infection) likely from the cuts.

Chuck was happy that he was able to be at Mbingo for Easter.  The celebration of the resurrection of Jesus starts early with a sunrise service on Mbingo Hill (which involves a pre-sunrise hike up the hill in the dark!).  This procession up the hill is accompanied by drums, dancing, and singing.  This picture shows part of the crowd singing and dancing just as the sun was rising.

After the mountain top sunrise service, the crowd walks down the hill and along the roads back to the church.  Again, there is singing, dancing, and praising God the entire way.  Once we arrived back at the church, there was a celebratory church service.  The joy of Easter is so easy to see among the believers in Cameroon.

A trip to Mbingo would not be complete without some incredible hiking.  This picture shows Dennis Palmer leading Chuck (and JR who is taking the picture) on a new route.  We went through farms, over wooden plank bridges, up the right side of the mountain range and then wrapped back around behind the prominent mountain in the distance (aka half dome).

This picture was from a hike on a different day.  We were able to get to the top of a mountain that looks down on an incredible waterfall.  The rains have started at Mbingo, so the waterfalls are starting to strengthen and the landscape is quickly turning green again.

Chuck and JR bought this load of mangos, pineapples, avocados, bananas, and papayas on the way to Mbingo and then finished it all in less than 2 weeks.  There are many things we miss when we are not at Mbingo and this is certainly one of them.  More importantly, we miss our Mbingo family and the ability to serve those in need, teach the residents and other learners, and share the love of God with patients that travel near and far to receive medical care.  We are looking forward to the next trip in July!