Calgary medical student returns to her youth by serving at Kenya’s Kijabe Hospital

January 27, 2020 • Kenya
World Medical Mission—the medical arm of Samaritan's Purse—places volunteer Christian physicians, dentists, and other medical professionals in mission hospitals around the world that are often desperate for staff. Not only do our volunteers offer physical relief to the suffering, but they also have the opportunity to share Christ with their patients.
World Medical Mission—the medical arm of Samaritan's Purse—places volunteer Christian physicians, dentists, and other medical professionals in mission hospitals around the world that are often desperate for staff. Not only do our volunteers offer physical relief to the suffering, but they also have the opportunity to share Christ with their patients.

“We need to be open to where God wants to take us”

Serving with World Medical Mission at Kijabe Hospital in Kenya last summer enabled 25-year-old Jessica Tjong to continue a family tradition begun by her father, an Ontario physician who has also served there.

Her three-week assignment at the widely respected teaching hospital also enabled Jessica, a University of Calgary medical student, to return to the Nairobi-area community where she went to high school. That was from 2010 to 2012 while her father Joshua was a World Medical Mission radiologist at Kijabe.

University of Calgary medical student Jessica Tjong (left) served with World Medical Mission at Kijabe Hospital in Kenya last summer.

University of Calgary medical student Jessica Tjong (left) served with World Medical Mission at Kijabe Hospital in Kenya last summer.

“It wasn’t any kind of sacrifice for me to go there again,” Jessica said recently. “It was with World Medical Mission, which is very special to me. I always had it in the back of my mind to go back to Kijabe.”

As part of her medical training in Calgary, she and her classmates were required to sign up last summer for a three-week elective—locally, elsewhere in Canada, or internationally. Jessica decided to return to Kijabe to serve and learn at the Christian hospital that already had a special place in her heart.

“When I was there that first time (with her father, mother, and two brothers), my desire for a career in medicine really started to grow,” Jessica said.

Back then, she and several of her high school classmates were invited to “shadow” some of the doctors at the hospital. It provided an ideal opportunity for the teens to decide if they wanted medical careers.

Jessica is interested in specializing in family medicine or pediatrics, so that was her focus last summer at Kijabe. She is thankful for how warmly she was welcomed, for the opportunity to provide much-needed medical aid to children and families, and for the medical knowledge and encouragement she received.

Grounded in God’s Word

While Jessica was at the hospital, a young boy was receiving cancer treatments. “Sam” gained strength, which was very encouraging for the medical staff, but then his body failed and he unexpectedly died.

“The whole pediatrics team was affected by his death,” Jessica recalled. “Multiple people at some point during his stay in hospital had been involved in his care. It taught me that I can rely on my teammates not only for deliberation and expertise on medical therapies, but for emotional support as we process something tragic like a young child’s death.”

One of Jessica’s special memories from last summer is the time each week when she and other members of the pediatrics ward team met for their weekly Bible study. The gathering offered everyone a valuable opportunity to stay grounded in God’s Word, and to pray for each other and their patients.

“We need to be open to where God wants to take us”

Jessica, who obtained her under-graduate degree from McGill University in Montreal, and who has lived in several Ontario cities (Kingston, Sault Ste. Marie, and Waterloo), said she strongly encourages every Christian physician or medical student in Canada or other developed countries to investigate the short-term service opportunities available through World Medical Mission.

“We need to be open to where God wants to take us through medical missions,” Jessica said. “Be open to God’s agenda, to what He wants to teach us.”

World Medical Mission—a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse—places volunteer Evangelical Christian physicians, dentists, and other medical personnel in short-term service at mission hospitals and clinics around the world.

World Medical Mission—a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse—places volunteer Evangelical Christian physicians, dentists, and other medical personnel in short-term service at mission hospitals and clinics around the world.

Although she is thinking about serving in Africa after she graduates in 2021, Jessica’s primary focus will be on providing medical aid to vulnerable people wherever they may be. That could be here in Canada—serving refugees or street people or trafficked people, or addiction victims or Indigenous communities.

“I need to be open to where God wants to take me,” Jessica said. “I know He can use me in many ways. I just want to practice medicine and provide health care for God’s glory.”

 

More