Pictures courtesy of Dr. Jesse Wong and Priscilla Wong
The Wong family, including Oliver, 2, Priscilla, Jesse, and Ethan, 3, will head to Rwanda this fall on a two-year trip with Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief organization. Cobourg dentist Dr. Jesse Wong will set up a dental clinic in a rural area, while Ms. Wong, an occupational therapist, hopes to help out in the community.
Written by Karen Longwell
A Cobourg family is taking much-needed skills to Rwanda in a two-year volunteer mission trip.
Cobourg dentist Dr. Jesse Wong and Priscilla Wong, an occupational therapist, will head to Rwanda in November to serve at Kibogora Hospital through World Medical Mission, a branch of Samaritan’s Purse. They plan to volunteer for at least two years, and will take along their children, Ethan, 3, and Oliver, 2.
Dr. Wong will help update the current dental clinic, do general dental surgery, provide training for the current team of dental therapists and provide spiritual discipleship and teaching wherever needed. Ms. Wong will home-school the couple’s two boys, provide any needed consultation to the occupational therapy and mental health teams at the hospital, and hopes to be involved with the community and its young children.
“We were looking for something we could do as a family,” said Ms. Wong.
Growing up in the Toronto area, Dr. and Ms. Wong have always had everything they needed. But in developing countries this not the case. In Canada, for example, there is one dentist for every 1,500 people, said Dr. Wong. In Rwanda there is one dentist for every 500,000 people, he said. People die from dental infections, he added.
“There is a real discrepancy. It’s not that we can fix all the problems but we can use whatever God has given us,” said Dr. Wong.
Living in the community, Ms. Wong hopes to help out whenever she can.
“We will definitely be a part of the community,” she said.
This is not the Wongs’ first experience with mission work. They have been on short-term mission trips to Aboriginal reserves and in Ghana, West Africa.
“We have always had a heart to reach out to the poor,” said Ms. Wong.
From 2007 to 2010, right after they were married, the Wongs moved to Moose Factory, Northern Ontario, to live and work among the Cree, providing health care.
Four and a half years ago they moved to Cobourg but soon started to search for an opportunity to use their skills to serve again.
They chose Rwanda because of the past history of the country. Now relatively safe, in 1994 Rwanda suffered the horrific events of genocide, where in a matter of months one million Rwandans were killed and massacred due to generations of inter-tribal hatred and conflict.
“The sheer brokenness in the country touched us,” said Dr. Wong.
The Kibogora Hospital is on the western coast of Rwanda on the shores of Lake Kivu, serving a population of 250,000. Most people make the equivalent of $1 US per day.
Dr. Wong will be taking donated supplies to the dental clinic.
The family needs to raise financial support to cover the costs of the trip and has thus far found a lot of support. Their church, the Cobourg Alliance Church, has been very supportive, said Dr. Wong. The monthly expenditures will be $3,800 to cover one-time costs of moving, airfare, language and mission training, vaccinations, and ongoing costs of housing, food, medical supplies and insurance.
Dr. Wong wrapped up his practice in Cobourg in August.
For more information on the mission trip and to donate, visit www.WongsinAfrica.com.