Living Stones

Think about the most significant influences on your life.  Who shaped the person you are?

Was it a parent, grandparent, teacher, friend, pastor. . .a colleague?  

Maybe a mentor who gave you a wise word of advice at a critical moment, or offered a hug when your heart was breaking.  Maybe this person never did one spectacular thing, but instead consistently showed up and cared, month after month, year after year.      

The book of 1 Peter contains a beautiful image of living stones.  As you think about legacy an influence, the number one way that your impact in Africa will last is through the people you love and train and empower.  Training of trainers, teaching of teachers, discipling of disciples.  

I hope that you have the chance to work with some of the remarkable people pictured here next time you are in Kijabe; to speak words of wisdom and encouragement and to share your heart with our “living stones.”   

Dr. Natalie, pictured above, is training to be the first pediatric anesthesiologist in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country of 80 million (that’s twice the population of California).

Dr. Allan Kochi is one of ten pediatric anesthetists in Kenya, population of 48 million.

He and Dr. Natalie are part of the pediatric anesthesia training partnership between AIC Kijabe and University of Nairobi.

Dr. Newton and the Impact Africa team recently hosted simulation training at Kijabe for Managing Emergencies in Pediatric Anesthesia.  The conference hosted providers from seven nations across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr. Sam Fabiano, PAACS general surgery resident visiting Kijabe for a three month rotation from Gabon.  After he completes his residency, he plans to return to his home country of Angola.

Dr. Dimingo Gomez is a first-year general surgery resident at Kijabe in partnership the Pan African Academy of Christian Surgeons.  He will be one of only 12 surgeons in Liberia when he completes his training.

Samuel Mwangi is an Emergency and Critical Care Clinical Officer graduate.  The ECCCO program was created to give clinical officers extra post-graduate training needed to perform at a high-level in ICU, HDU, and Emergency care.

Kijabe ECCCO training contains a strong mission and discipleship component, and graduates are entering partnerships with training hospitals on Kenyan borders and beyond.

This program has given rise to creating Pediatric ECCCO curriculum, and we hope to see certification happen in the coming year.

Dr. Manakhe Nassiuma is a first year PAACS surgery resident who worked at Kijabe during her internship, was hired on to run the AIC Kijabe Nairobi Clinic, then recently accepted into the general surgery training program.

She is following in the footsteps of phenomenal female surgery residents at Kijabe.

Dr. David Jomo was posted at Kijabe for internship, excelled, and is now part of the orthopedic surgery residency program.


Do you ever think about the ways the world will be shaped because of your life?

What change do you seek to make?

What do you hope to accomplish either personally and professionally, through your friends and your family?

I want to impress upon you that wherever you are, and whatever you are doing your life will have far and wide, oftentimes in the smallest and most unexpected, miraculous places.

Below are then and now pictures with several founders who left an indelible legacy on Kijabe. And at the end, a tribute to Elizabeth Richter.

Justy Stoesz, who started lab training at Kijabe hospital and worked here for nearly 40 years.  Still a Friend of Kijabe, we communicate just about every month!  Below is the lab today, greatly developed in terms of technology.

Brothers, Dr. Bill and Dr. Arthur Barnett, carried the work from mid-century until the 1980’s.  They built the hospital in its current location, and still have family working both in East Africa and in leadership roles with AIM.  Dr. Bill recently celebrated his hundredth birthday!

In the pictures of the hospital below, the white roofed, cross shaped buildings are the ones the Barnett brothers oversaw, in addition to building the Heron house.  The theatre complex, maternity, outpatient, surgery/physio clinic space, Bethany Kids building, Dental, ENT clinic, palliative care, and chapel came later.

Dr. Dick Bransford continues to provide surgical care for special needs children in East Africa, particularly hydrocephalus and spina bifida patients – as he has for half-a-century.  Dr. Bransford founded what is now Bethany Kids.  Our children’s hospital and pediatric surgery & neurosurgery programs are result of his tireless work.

Nettie Sinclair worked for several decades to launch nurse training at Kijabe Hospital, what is now known as Kijabe College of Health Sciences, training hundreds of students each year.

This message is in honor of Elizabeth Richter, who died this week at age 93.

Elizabeth Richter, or Grandma Betty, as I know her lived a beautiful, faithful life.  And I want to share just small story of legacy as a tribute, because it affects the very words you are reading.

Betty’s son John was instrumental to launching Friends of Kijabe, and is now serving as our first board chair.  Her granddaughter, Arianna is my wife; pediatrician at Kijabe.  Without Arianna’s bold dream, strengthened by the prayers of her grandmother, I would never have come to Africa certainly would not have found this leadership role in fundraising and storytelling.  Betty’s other children and grandchildren have been instrumental to us in providing advice, funding projects, mailing thank you and Christmas cards, housing supplies until they are ready to be shipped to Kenya, and always holding our hospital up in prayer.

Grandma Betty is making an impact on a continent she never even visited, something I find beautiful and amazing.

Giving Tuesday

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend and trust that even in Australia you were able to find a Turkey to celebrate!

I would like to share two patients with you if you wish to participate in Giving Tuesday. Please include their names in the additional information field at checkout.

Brian, pictured above, is a sweet boy intubated in ICU bed one.  A gift of $100 will cover his care for a day on the ventilator.

Marion, chemotherapy patient has been with us off and on for the last 6 months.  The balance of her care beyond what the family and insurance have been able pay is $500.

Donate at:


On behalf of our Friends of Kijabe board, Kijabe Hospital leadership, staff, missionaries, patients, and students, thank you!

For your faithfulness and generosity. . .for the seeds you have planted and watered. . .for the investment of your time, talent, and treasure. . .for your sacrifice on behalf of the poor. . .for commitment to providing world-class medical education and patient care. . .for loving across oceans, languages, cultures. . .for your commitment to changing the world by contributing to one small hospital on a mountainside in Kenya.

We are thankful you are a Friend of Kijabe!

In Season and Out

Does something ever look just a little bit off? I was walking through an oddly quiet Kijabe this morning, and the post office boxes illustrated exactly how I felt. Why are the numbers running right to left instead of the way we would normally read?
Kijabe and much of Kenya feels amiss, on the day votes are recast after the first election in September was ruled unconstitutional.
Nothing wrong, but not right. Too quiet, too calm. Too few vehicles, too many shops closed. No imminent danger, but the present threat.
The hospital continues to operate with essential services and would be calm, excepting that many staff have traveled to hometowns around the country for voting. For the remaining workers, the load is heavy and hands are few.
For 102 years patient care has continued at Kijabe, and I trust completely that it will carry on tomorrow. Just as the exhortation to Timothy commanded, “preach the word, in season and out of season,” so may AIC Kijabe Hospital continue to preach the good news of the true healer through compassionate healthcare regardless the external circumstances in the country. In season and out of season.
So on a day that is tempting to despair, I think it is good to celebrate recent victories that have happened as we continued to serve during the election times.

Dr. Amon and Dr. Alain, newest pediatric surgery trainees at AIC Kijabe Bethany Kids Children’s Center.

Dr. Tim Berg with a patient ready for discharge after a whipple procedure – a very complex surgery to remove a pancreatic tumor.

 Twins born at 27 weeks this summer are finally ready to go home!


Dr. Nathalie is studying to be the first pediatric anesthesiologist in her home country of Democratic Republic of Congo. She is at Kijabe on a three month rotation in partnership with the University of Nairobi. 

 Histologists prepare slides in the pathology lab. A new tissue processor is fully funded thanks to your generosity and will greatly aid this process.

Boaz, one of 5 Kijabe College of Health Sciences students whose loans are fully funded!

Dr. Nthumba performing burn contracture surgery on Blessing Ann, who fell into a fire. She is healing nicely as you can see below, and fundraising is ongoing at

New class of Emergency and Critical Care Medicine Clinical Officers with Dr. Matson and Dr. Halestrap. 

Occupational Therapist Luke Mcauley, working with a special needs child.

Dr. Steve Yeh, short-term ENT, with a patient who can now speak again after six months of silence following a total laryngectomy. 

James, a patient who suffered a femur fracture during chaos of the last election, has now returned home thanks to your help.  

Blessing Ann

If you spend time on the Bethany Kids Pediatric Ward at Kijabe Hospital, you will notice unusual names such as Victor, Blessing, Hope, Mercy, Angel.

These names are the prayers of parents and caregivers who are desperate for hope.  The name is a testament to the struggle these children have passed through – the name is a symbol and a memorial.

Blessing Ann, pictured above, is one such patient. She is an orphan, who had already endured much hardship before she placed her hands on cooking ashes.  She was brought to Kijabe by her orphanage, desperate to find the blessing of healing.

I absolutely love watching surgery. Seeing Dr. Bird operate is like watching an artist at work. Even watching Dr. Nthumba perform skin grafts is amazing.

But I cried all the way through Blessing Ann’s surgery. Slits were cut in the burned skin between each of her fingers, and pins placed to stretch them out of her tight fists.

Maybe it’s imagining my own daughters in such a state, or realizing the pain she must endure in the coming months to regain her mobility. It just broke my heart.

But she can and will be healed, just like the little Somali boy I saw last week. This little boy was in the ICU two years ago with severe burns covering 80% of his body. He returned for follow-up, and though he has scars, he looks like any other boy – it is amazing!

So here’s what I need you to do. Click below and either make a donation or share her donation page through social media/email.

Her bill will be less than $2000 and we already have $650 donated, so this is completely achievable.

Hand before surgery, unable to open.

Dr. Nthumba releasing her burn contractures.


Recovery and waiting for a followup visit to the operating theatre.


A New Voice

Have you ever been in a new country where you couldn’t speak the language? Remember the struggle to communicate, the gestures and pantomime needed to find a bus or buy food at a restaurant?  
What if that feeling was permanent?  
Imagine hearing that live you need a laryngectomy, but the procedure would render you unable to speak.
Then imagine if your doctor told you there was hope, a way to restore your voice!  
Visiting ENT Dr. Steve Yeh and Dr. Chege Macharia recently restored the voice of patient James.
“This patient and another earlier this year at Kijabe are likely according to Dr. Macheria among the first in Kenya to have their voices restored after total laryngectomy by a surgically created passage between the windpipe and the esophagus within which a prosthetic one-way valve is placed to prevent saliva leakage back into the airway. Dr. Mark Singer, the co-inventer of the Blom-Singer method of voice restoration and I were fellow ENT residents working on different ideas for surgical prosthetic voice restoration, Shortly after we both finished our training, Dr. Singer hit on the present idea that really worked. Kijabe Hospital received a few samples of the device courtesy of Dr. Singer that we are putting them to good use.”  Dr. Steve Yeh
*We have learned that a team from Vanderbilt performed 9 of these procedures last year on the coast.

Love is the Best Metric

September was a great month for Friends of Kijabe.

5 KCHS students funded; a check in the mail for Bob’s Pediatric EM fellowship; a vital and quite expensive tissue processor purchased; a follow-up visit from pastor Hellmers to check on the surgical NICU project; needy patients able to return home. . .

$35,000 donated in one month. Wow!

$120,000 for Kijabe Hospital projects and patients given since June!


However, I was talking to a good friend about this, and he asked an insightful question: “Is the amount raised your metric for success?”

Not personally. Measuring success by numbers alone is a bit like measuring self-worth by facebook likes – not a great plan. Numbers will rise and fall by season, by campaign, by need, by market conditions, even by the day of the week an email arrives in an inbox. Numbers tell a story, but not the whole story.

What excites me much more is the heart and motive behind the gifts – the reason why you give. A note of blessing can mean as much as the gift itself.

Here’s some examples, hope they are as inspiring to you as they are to me:

“My brother passed away in February and since I am the only living sibling, we were blessed with some extra funds and it has been fun to distribute some of this blessing to various ministries we know about and would like to support.”

“While at Kijabe, I remember how low the (Needy Children’s) fund would run low and we would have to wait for money to come in. Always wanted to do this but wasn’t sure how. Thank you for Friends of Kijabe. The Lord bless you guys.”

“God is so good… we’re thankful, honored, inspired to be part of what you and the team are doing in Kijabe.”

“Tell the lab that we love them and think of them often. We pray God will continue to bless and enrich their lives for their faithfulness to His calling. I long to see them and rejoice in God with them. They are beautiful people and I so love them.”

Simply beautiful.

I am convinced that out of all measures of success, love is the best metric.

Pediatrics and Maternity Teambuilding
Several of the thirty children in our always-full newborn nursery/ICU.
Dr. Lee Demeester on his 19th trip to work in the Kijabe pathology department.
Boaz, one of the KCHS students whose loans are now fully funded!



How do you run a hospital with a budget of $10 million to standards of a $100 million facility?

How does a mother of 3, making $2.50/day, pay for a $1500 femur repair for her son?

How does the pathology lab buy a $20k tissue processor when their purchasing budget is $0?

How do you increase staff salaries for 800+ employees by 20% without increasing patient costs?

How do you upgrade the maternity unit when there are six laboring mothers in waiting and two in active labor within the deliver room?

How do you get a sit-down meeting with senior leadership of the World Health Organization and Red Cross?

How do you maintain the infrastructure and staffing to perform 10,000 surgeries in a year?

How do you see 500+ outpatient visitors in a day with 6 treatment rooms?

How do you ensure decide what sort of lifesaving measures should be allocated to an 800 gram preemie?

How do you train nurses and clinical officers to be the best in the world for $2000 a year?

How do you house 15 surgery residents and their families so they can study at your facility?

How do you achieve infant mortality rates on par with the United States?

How do you cut surgical-post operation infection in half year-over-year?

How do you keep 15 missionary doctors engaged and happy in their work, avoiding burnout?

How do you retain Kenyan consultant staff who could earn 2-10x their salary elsewhere?

How do you convert to an EMR without funds for a $300K hardware cost?

How do you steward healthy relationships with the local community that enables them to join in your work?

How do you navigate the cultures of different tribes, ethnicities, and nationalities working together?

How do you handle orthopedic caseload when the waiting list is 1-year long?

How do you become sustainable within the many overwhelming, dichotomous needs?

How do you make health care provision a ministry – what does Healthcare to God’s Glory actually look like?

How do you ensure that every guest and every patient has a great experience at Kijabe Hospital?

How do you provide world class health care in the developing world?


When you think about the magnitude of these questions, you realize two things:








Students and Teachers


I love this moment, as Dr. Beryl Akinyi gently guides the hand of her trainee to show her the proper hand position to place a suture.

I love this moment even more because it is a picture of dreams achieved and countless glass ceilings shattered: three Kenyan females performing a mastectomy.

Beryl finished her PAACS surgery residency at Kijabe Hospital and  has become a skilled general surgeon and an excellent teacher.

We are honored to watch the student become the teacher, the greatest gift any of our surgeons who have invested their lives at Kijabe could ever receive.