Lacombe Globe: Lacombe-based organization embarks on medical mission to Africa

A prelude to the local humanitarian organization’s 25th anniversary, A Better World Canada (ABW) is preparing for its next big trip: a medical mission to Kenya on Nov. 4.

Eric Rajah, humanitarian worker and co-founder of ABW, said because of the great need for medical services in rural areas of Kenya, ABW’s medical team will not only be providing medical services, but will also be training local health care professionals in Kenya.

“The primary purpose of this trip is to provide health and medical services to people in rural Africa,” Rajah explained. “One of the main components of the trip is to do training as well. While the services we provide are important, long-term affects are seen when you can train the local people.”

With an aggregation of doctors, nurses and non-medical support staff (a total of 58 people) venturing out on the medical mission, Rajah said trips like these are not without their challenges.

“The biggest challenge is there will be more people than we can treat,” Rajah said. “There will be so many people lined up, and it’s heartbreaking when you have to close the clinic down and move to the next location.”

But Rajah said after almost 25 years of experience with trips like these, he is confident that ABW can make a difference. Especially with help of Lacombe residents such as Karen Leung, the leader for the surgical team in Kenya, ABW can attain their goals of partnering with local community organizations as well as improving the lives of those in need.

“One of her (Leung’s) goals is to do 100 surgeries a year,” Rajah said. “There are others from Lacombe involved as well. To be in a city like Lacombe and be able to get generous people involved in humanitarian causes…it’s just such a benefit to be directly involved in changing people’s lives.”

Along with setting up medical clinics around rural areas of Kenya, the ABW group will also be helping out at orphanages and schools. Because ABW has built schools all over Kenya, Rajah said it’s important to visit past projects to make sure they are operating as they should.

Rajah added that these trips are also crucial for assessing what the needs of local people in Kenya are, and how those have changed over the lifespan of ABW projects in their area.

“Everywhere we go there will be a school we have built, so we’ll be going into the schools and doing assessments on our work,” he explained. “This allows us to understand what their needs are so we can deliver our services better to them.”

Rajah also said that the upcoming Kenya trip is a great opportunity to see ABW in action. He said a lot of the time people are donating to humanitarian organizations, but are not able to see where their donations go or how they affect the local people.

“They’re not just sending the money to somebody and not knowing exactly what’s happening with it,” Rajah explained. “The people that go on the trip will experience the real need there, and also see firsthand what ABW is doing.”

With ABW’s anniversary just around the corner, Rajah said he is thrilled to have such a dedicated group joining him for what is somewhat of an early celebration of 25 years of hard work.

He added that he hopes ABW’s work will continue to inspire those in the Lacombe community and beyond.

“We have a lot of people in the community that support us,” Rajah said. “This trip gives them a chance to see our work, and hopefully it inspires them to do more. It also shows that you don’t have to go to a big city to fulfill a passion to help.”

For those looking to donate or to follow the medical team along in their journey, please visit ABW’s website and blog at: abwcanada.ca.

By: Vince Burke

Lacombe Globe