Selma-based group makes a return trip to KenyaPublished 11:39pm Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Editor’s note: Former Times-Journal writer Ashley Johnson tagged along with a medical and dental team to Meto, Kenya for a trip with Integrity Worldwide, a Selma-based Christian mission organization. This is the first in a series of articles the Times-Journal will feature following the latest mission trip.
METO, Kenya — A team of medical professionals, including nurses, doctors and dentists, along with a handful of other volunteers, returned to Montgomery Saturday evening after a long journey from Kenya.
Following a 20-hour flight to Nairobi, and long drive to Meto, the team arrived for a 4-day clinic where they treated everything from coughs and aches to rotten teeth.
Even hernias and malnourishment were some of the memorable cases treated.
Three hundred Meto residents were seen in total, 80 percent of those being women. Many of the patients saw the doctor, had a teeth cleaning and tooth pulled from the dentists.
The medical mission, something commonly conducted through Integrity Worldwide in Meto, is all part of a larger vision to one day start a full-time clinic within Meto with a Kenyan nurse and doctor, caring for patients even when Integrity is not there.
During this journey, that desire for a clinic became one step closer to being a reality as the negotiation for land of the clinic began.
Integrity Worldwide is a non-profit Selma-based organization ultimately born from a vision the Hicks family was given by God. Since its inception many in the community have participated in trips, raised funding through annual events like the Integrity Worldwide 5K and Fun Run and multiple leaders of the community serve on its board.
Together Selma residents have helped rebuild, renew and restore a small village in Kenya creating self-sustaining projects like a well that serves a 50 kilometer radius, feeding a school with hungry children and making scholarships available for school tuition.
Today they seek to begin a medical clinic to be ever-present for the severe medical needs of the community.
The future of
The trip team came together unexpectedly, Averee Hicks, a founding member of Integrity Worldwide said.
While in previous trips, a team would somewhat assemble but she and other board members would pray over who else to ask to come along — maybe another doctor or nurse.
But for the first time, a team came together all on its own, something Hicks said God had a hand in.
Dentists at Central Alabama Children’s Dentistry, James and Rayne Osborn, shared interest in going and spoke to Dentist Julie Samms and husband Matt. Then former Selma resident Caroline Bobo and her husband Dr. Steven Bobo joined on as well.
“We didn’t have to go recruit a nurse or doctor,” Averee said. “People came together by God just putting this team together. All we had to do for this trip was decide on a date.”
And others came along as well. Janet Atchision, a nurse herself, went on the trip, as did Integrity Worldwide board member Donna Long. Elon Steinberg from Montgomery joined the team as a prayer warrior like Long. These women assisted in the pharmacy and prayed over each and every patient, providing a cure through the Lord where medicine could not reach.
Together this team did something different, the Hicks family agreed, than ones in previous journeys. They presented the future of Integrity Worldwide.
“We saw the future of Integrity Worldwide this week,” Alan Hicks Sr. said, explaining their family has already placed the organization in the hands of their son Alan Jr.
“We saw the future of the organization, watching the work of Rayne and James, Matt and Julie and Steven and Caroline,” Alan Sr. said.
He said in the seven to eight days the team was in Meto, they were able to grasp the entire vision of the organization, which is helping grow a community, but helping in a way that would make the community self-sufficient.
The next step:
a full time clinic
Alan Jr. knows the Massai culture better than some who have grown up in it. As the leader for Integrity Worldwide, working out of an office in Germany, Hicks travels to Meto multiple times each year.
The needs in the community for food and water are great but the medical issues stem further than that. Because the nearest clinic is hours away over dirt roads, women often die in childbirth and babies will only sometimes live beyond one year.
Alan Jr. has entered Bomas, or the small mud huts in which the Massai live, only to find a baby just months old with an umbilical cord still in tact. Babies are not named until several months along to prevent attachment with the mothers if something medically were to go wrong.
“But the point is not to be sad for them,” Alan Jr. said, about the reaction to harsh realities of life in the Massai tribe, a people full of joy and laughter. “They are really happy, but there are some sufferings underneath. There are specific medical needs that we can address.”
Integrity Worldwide’s long-term vision is for the clinic to not only house a Kenyan doctor and nurse, but also an ophthalmologist and OBGYN. Cataracts are frequent in children and adults in Meto, most likely due to the blazing African sun sitting on the equator so close to their village.
“We want to offer basic healthcare, it would be great to have a dentist, nurse and doctor. I think the biggest challenge would be getting the employees who would come and want to be there and making it self sustaining,” Alan Jr. said, who said the clinic vision could be a reality within the next three to five years.