- Last Updated on 3 June 2013
Our Mission Partner is Michelle Proctor who is working with SIM (Serving in Mission) at Mukinge Hospital in Zambia.
Michelle has a base in Cambridge. She trained as a paediatric nurse in London and attended All Souls Church. For the past 15 years she has worked as a Member of SIM (Serving in Mission) at Mukinge Hospital in Zambia, Southern Africa, as a paediatric nurse and anaesthetist. Liz Bennett has known and worked with Michelle throughout her time in Africa and was the one to recommend her to Cromer Church.
Mukinge Hospital is in the North Western Province of Zambia. It is a large general hospital with over 200 beds and is run by the Evangelical Church in Zambia, but it is also under the Zambian Government. The hospital management is mainly Zambian professionals. There is a busy outpatients department, two general wards, two paediatric wards, a maternity ward, a TB ward and an eye ward. The operating theatre is always busy and the surgeon and Michelle often have night calls.
Mukinge also has a Nurses Training School where about 100 students receive a two year training, leading to the national Zambian Enrolled Nurse qualification. The nurses in training attend Bible Classes run by senior staff (including Michelle) and many go on to have significant roles in their churches and to serve as Christian nurses in the government hospitals after qualifying.
Michelle's latest news
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the Peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7
I have been trying to write this letter for some time and struggling to know what to tell you. The Manager of Nursing Care role does not give me too many new stories to tell and the potential for cute pictures is definitely less! Unlike working on the ward, I see very few daily results from my current job and I find myself wondering, “What am I doing and is it making a difference?” Some days feel like one step forward and two back!
It was in this frame of mind and feeling a bit discouraged that I walked on to maternity ward this morning. A lady greeted me and reminded me that I had been in theatre with her last week when her twins were born by caesarean section. I remembered her because it had been a lovely case to be involved with; she spoke English and was very excited about the birth of her new babies. She couldn’t take her eyes off them and kept asking if they were OK. She introduced me to her husband and they told me their story and how they first met me in 2011. They grew up going to church and had faith in God. They were delighted when they had a baby girl and named her Faith. At age six weeks, Faith became ill and was admitted to my ward. I helped to care for her and was with them when the doctor said there was nothing more we could do for Faith. I prayed with them and they prayed too, feeling sure God would answer their prayers. Sadly, Faith died later that day. The Mum told me how she was devastated and could not understand how God could let their baby die and how she stopped praying. Over time she began to pray again and she told me how she had learnt that faith in God is easy when everything is going well but harder when things are difficult. She says that God has given her peace and quoted the above verse. They have named their twins Comfort and Peace and are sharing what they have learnt with their church and others.
This story was the encouragement I needed today. A reminder, that in all we do we touch people’s lives. I may not be doing a lot of hands on nursing right now but I have a chance to work with nurses who do. A chance to teach and to help guide nurses who one day will be scattered all over Zambia. A chance to work in a hospital where not only physical but also spiritual healing is important. The students in my Bible class are taking their final nursing exams this week and the practical exams next week. After the exams they will leave Mukinge to await the results and, presuming they have passed, find out where they are posted to work. Only a few will be posted to Mukinge. I pray that as they leave here they will do so not only with good nursing skills but with a faith that is stronger than when they arrived.
In Zambia this time of year is known as “Cold Season” and although it is not really that cold in the day the nights can be chilly. It is also a dry and dusty time of year and the dust combined with smoke from grass fires helps create beautiful sunsets. This was the view from my front step one evening last week.
Thank you for your continued support and interest in my work and life here. Michelle.
He is Risen!
Happy Easter! I wonder what you will be doing this Easter? On Sunday morning I will be climbing the hill next to the hospital at 5am for a sunrise service. The getting up is never easy for me but I am always glad that I made the effort to climb the hill and celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and saviour.
March has been a busy month with lots happening in the hospital. The wards have been busy and the children’s ward has been full to overflowing with malaria cases. Sadly there have also been several deaths from Malaria. We had a two-day visit from the orthopaedic team who after assessing all the people who had come to see them were able to operate on 13 people. I helped with the anaesthesia and it was good to be a part of something that makes such a difference in people's lives.
Once again we are building in the hospital, this time a much needed extension to the laboratory. The “lab” is one of the busiest departments in the hospital as it does all the laboratory work for both the out-patient department and the patients in the hospital. It will be great to have the building finished and more space and better conditions for this vital work. We are also hoping that in the future we can rebuild our kitchen and laundry buildings. These buildings are old and in need of repair and the services required have out grown the buildings. Pray for a project proposal we have submitted for this that it may be accepted.
Last week, the Nurses Training School held interviews for their next intake and I discovered that it is part of my job to be on the interview panel! There were three panels and we interviewed 414 candidates over five days. It was an interesting and exhausting experience for me. Candidates came from all over the county and many stated our good reputation as a reason for wanting to come to Mukinge. For others it was that we are a mission hospital, for some that we were rural and therefore no distractions of town life and for one honest man because we are cheaper than other schools! I have to confess that I got tired of hearing the same responses over and over again; when asked why they want to be a nurse nearly everyone stated that they had “a passion for nursing and it has been my career since I was a child.” Many had no idea what a nurse does but some really shone out as someone who really wanted to nurse and care for people. One such person had watched nurses care for a relative in a “rude and rough” way and wanted to be a nurse so he could make a difference. Another had cared for her mother with mental health problems and nursed her dying sister at home; she cried as she told us how she wanted to care for others too. Sixty five have been chosen to start nurse training in July and I look forward to seeing how they do.
New arrivals at the hospital include Dr Chiluba a newly qualified Zambian trained doctor. Dr Chiluba came to Mukinge during his training on a medical elective and has now returned to work here. Pray for him and his young family as they settle in to rural life at Mukinge. Wing-Tse, a pharmacist from Canada, has joined us for two months and is a big help in our busy pharmacy where a key member if staff is away studying.
The manager of nursing care role continues to keep me busy and to challenge me. How do I handle someone who refuses to do something that is part of their role? What do I do when someone. without telling me. just does not come in to work? How do I motivate someone who does not want to work here and who can not get a transfer to somewhere else? I become discouraged when sometimes even the most basic of things are not done on the wards. I am also encouraged by nurses who work hard and put in extra effort and those who go out of their way to help me when I am struggling to know what to do. Pray that I would have the wisdom and sensitivity needed to handle the situations that come to my office each day.
I am looking forward to the SIM Zambia Spiritual Life Conference on April 8th – 12th. It will be good to see the rest of the SIM Zambia team and to have time for teaching and fun together. Please pray for safety as many of us travel a long way to get there. Also pray that the hospital will be quiet that week as there will be fewer doctors than normal.
Thank you for your continued interest in the work here at Mukinge
A belated Happy New Year to you! January was a month of contrast and change for me. I started 2013 in a cold but beautiful snowy Canada (yes, that is me skiing!) and now I am back in Zambia in the heat of rainy season complete with daily thunderstorms. To get here I have travelled by car, train, plane, bus and - for the last three hours of the journey - a lorry finally to reach Mukinge. The lorry was also loaded with chicken feed, building materials and a bath tub!
The Zambian Currency has changed, what was a million kwacha is now a thousand and what was a thousand is now one! Coins have been introduced as well as new notes printed. There are one hundred Ingwe to the Kwacha. Until June we are using the old and new money together which takes a bit of getting used to.
While I was away, my house had uninvited guests: bats and rats!! The bats came down a chimney and left a mess - and a smell when one of them died. The rats got into the kitchen through a hole and ate their way through several plastic containers, a spatula, some muffin cases and my curry powder! The chimney is now covered with mesh, the hole in the wall filled with concrete and, just to make sure they don't return, I have a kitten who is in training as a rat-catcher. (My old cat disappeared while I was away.)
At work there are changes too. For now I am no longer working on the children’s ward but concentrating on being the manager of nursing care and helping with anaesthesia. Although in my head I know this is the most sensible and practical thing to do, my heart is still with the children and I miss being on the ward and take any opportunity I can to go there! There have been several changes to get used to in the hospital, not least of all trying to learn the names of all the new nurses and for the first week or so I felt like my head was spinning! There was a reorganization of the wards while I was away and we now have a dedicated surgical ward. Before, medical and surgical patients were on the same wards. Plans for a small Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for the most critically ill patients were well underway and, by the time I arrived, all that was needed was equipment and some more staff. Well, some equipment arrived and I was trying to work out how to shuffle the staff around when our first patient was admitted and we just had to do the best we could. Our patient was a young lady who had just delivered, by caesarian section, a stillborn baby. The lady was very sick with malaria and overwhelming infection and we were struggling to keep her blood pressure high enough to sustain her life. Our nurses were able to monitor her closely and titrate the drugs to keep her blood pressure up and our very first intensive care patient lived. This picture shows the ICU with nurses learning from Dr Missy.
The manager of nursing care job is a challenge at times for me as well as a joy. I find myself doing things I never dreamt of. This week I had 24 hours to fill in a form with the uniform and shoe size of every nurse on staff - that is over 80 nurses - many of whom are away at the moment and not contactable. Let's just say there was a lot of guessing and it should be interesting when the government-issue uniforms arrive later this year!
There is a big need for in-hospital teaching for our qualified staff, and this is something I am hoping to get going in the coming months. Trying to work out when is the best time, where to teach, what to teach and find people to help teach will be a challenge but I am looking forward to taking it on.
This letter comes to you from a cold and foggy Cambridgeshire, where with the help of some borrowed warm clothes I am enjoying the novelty of my first winter in a few years. In the last 5 months I have spent time with family and friends, given 18 talks, worshipped in 11 churches and driven nearly 3000 miles. I have experienced the wettest summer in 100 years, seen the beauty of autumn and rediscovered the need for thermal socks. It has been great to see so many friends here but I miss my friends in Zambia too. One friend who has been in my thoughts a lot is Pamu, let me introduce you…
Pamu (left) was a student nurse at Mukinge when I first met her and after graduating she remained at Mukinge where she met and married her husband Menda. While working on our malnutrition ward, Pamu was moved by the plight of orphans and the vision for Mulunda Miaka Orphanage (MMO) came in to being. The orphanage has been a work in progress for several years, but at the end of last year Pamu gave up her job and moved with her family out to the site at Dengwe, which is about 30km from Mukinge Hospital. Since then there has been a lot of progress, such as the development of self-sustaining projects including gardens and chickens and money is raised from the sale of produce and eggs. There have also been a few frustrations such as the high iron content in the borehole water, necessitating a filter being built. Although all the buildings are not yet complete, they were ready to accept children when I left and, in September, the first two children to join the MMO family in Dengwe arrived. Chola came to them from Mukinge Hospital where she had been admitted with malnutrition. At two years and seven months old she weighed just 5.9kg (13 pounds). She apparently has a bright smile and a big appetite!
Emmanuel (right) came as a newborn, he has an extended family but they are not able to afford infant formula for him, an all too common story for orphans in Zambia. His family will decide in 6 months whether they are able to feed and care for him or if he will remain at MMO.
Not long after these first children arrived the social welfare office approached MMO with four children, aged 5-9 years, who needed a home immediately. This was a unique situation of older children coming to MMO and was seen as an opportunity to serve a very real need. They did not have beds for the children, but accepted them on faith, trusting God to provide. The Social Welfare Office was able to acquire four beds, and everyone was squeezed in, with two of the older girls sleeping in the office for the time being. Along with Pamu’s own children this makes 11 children living with Pamu at MMO. Completing the building of the dormitory has now become a priority. If you are interested in learning more about MMO you can visit their web site at www.mmorphanage.org.
Play time at MMO and the unfinished dormitory.
I hope you enjoyed meeting Pamu. It has been a privilege and exciting for me to see her dream become reality and to be a small part of it by being a member of the MMO board.
In 2 months, I will be back in Zambia after spending Christmas with friends in Canada - my first white Christmas!
It has been wonderful to see and catch up with so many people while I have been home. Thank you all for your support in so many ways. I look forward to keeping in touch when I return.
With love from Michelle
September has flown by. I had a great time in Hampshire visiting friends and sharing about Mukinge at Minstead Church in the New Forest. The car arrived and I am thankful for the independence it gives me.
This month’s update comes from the north Norfolk coast – a beautiful part of England. I am here to visit Cromer Parish Church and have had a busy and fun week. I have been interviewed in church services, spoken at a prayer meeting, attended small groups and talked non-stop about Mukinge! It has been amazing to meet so many people who pray for me having never met me until this week. I have been staying with Liz Bennett who was, until four years ago, a nurse at Mukinge. We have had a great time catching up and remembering fun times together in Zambia.
My October travels start with a trip to Berlin for a wedding and then I begin a “grand tour” around the UK. I will be in Lancashire visiting family and friends, spending a week in Southport and sharing at a church there. Then I move on to Cumbria where I will be spending time with Mum and Dad and talking to different groups. From there I drive further north to Scotland where I will be in Glasgow by the beginning of November. Please pray for safety in travel and for good times with family, friends and supporting churches.
News From Mukinge
As the weather cools down here and I dig out my winter clothes I am aware that we are approaching the hottest time of the year in Zambia, when the heat and humidity increase and everyone longs for the rains to start.
Mukinge Hill Academy is having a hard time with staffing. What with one teacher on Maternity Leave and two others being posted to government schools, they are short of teachers. Pray for the school and for Janet Parke as she leads it. Pray that teachers could be found where needed and give thanks for Louise coming from New Zealand next January to help there.
Good news for the hospital is that Dr Missy Sandberg has raised her support and has a flight booked for the 12th November. It will be great to have a third long-term doctor in the hospital. Pray for her as she spends the next month preparing to leave America and saying goodbye to friends and family.
Hilary Edgcombe is also returning to Mukinge 1st – 21st October to do anaesthesia. This is a great answer to prayer and will give Lynn a much needed break.
Thank you for your continued interest in the work at Mukinge
It is hard to believe I have been back in the UK for nearly 2 months now. The start of my Home Assignment has been relaxing. I had a holiday with my sister in Cornwall seeing some of the beautiful Cornish countryside. We visited Lands End the most southerly part of mainland Britain where we saw basking sharks swimming just off shore!
I have also made a trip up to Cumbria to visit my parents. Claire, who has just finished two years at Mukinge working at the Academy, was able to meet me there for a holiday. We had fun seeing some of the Lake District despite the wet and windy weather. It was good to catch up and hear how Claire is settling in to life back home. Pray for her as she adjusts to teaching back in Northern Ireland. I was able to be with my Mum for her birthday and it was fun to be able to celebrate together.
September will be a busier month for me with trips to Hampshire and Norfolk where I am visiting churches and doing talks. From 3rd September I will have a car to use which will be a big help and save my sister from being my 'taxi driver' to and from the station. Pray for safety on the road as I will be driving a lot in the next few months.
News from Mukinge: The Typhoid epidemic is over and the schools are able to open again. Pray for the children, especially those in exam years, and teachers as they try to make up for the weeks missed.
Shecaniah had her surgery in India. The operation went well, she made a good recovery and is now back home in Mukinge with her family. I know her family would want me to thank you for praying for her, her Dad wrote this in an email to me: "We are so indebted to the prayers and support from everyone of you. We are so touched that God used such people as angels to our daughter. One day I pray that she will know and share this grace with other people in her life."
Good news on the anaesthetic front: Hilary Edgcombe is returning to Mukinge in October to help for three weeks, which will give Lynn a break from anaesthesia and a chance not to be on call all the time.
Thank you for all your prayers. I am looking forward to seeing many of you in the next few months.
Hello from England where the world has gone Olympic mad! It is a fun time to be home, feel the excitement and see the flags flying as our nation supports Team GB! I’m looking forward to being able to see so many of the events on television and excited that I get to be a part of it when I go to see the fencing next week!
The journey from Mukinge to Lusaka was eventful with a four-hour delay at one of the pontoons while we waited for them to fix it so we could cross the river. Later in the journey we had car problems and about 60 km out of Lusaka we had to be rescued by friends and leave our car in a road side village. The good news was we already had the part we needed to fix the car, but the bad news was it was in Mukinge! So the part was put on a bus to Solwezi at 4 a.m. and met by a friend who put it on the bus to Lusaka which we met at midnight. It turned out to be the wrong part, so the whole process was repeated again the next day with the right part and eventually with the help of many friends our car was fixed!
I have now been home for over three weeks. During this time I have enjoyed spending time with my sister and we had a lovely weekend away in the Cotswolds, despite the wet British weather.
I have given my first short talk at All Souls in London, where it was good to see friends again. Also while I was in London, I had my medical from which I came away feeling like a pincushion after blood was taken and immunizations given! Last week I was in Suffolk at Wetheringsett Manor, the home of SIM-UK, where I had my debrief. Jan Matthews was there at the same time and we had a great time catching up on each others news.
News from Mukinge: I was so happy to hear that Rose, the little girl who had all the surgeries for typhoid, went home. Unfortunately there are now more cases of typhoid in Kasempa and to try stop it from spreading too much all the local schools have been closed. Mukinge Girls Secondary School have had three cases but as they are a boarding school the pupils are staying at school in order not to spread it around Zambia. One pupil from the academy has also had typhoid. Please pray that the outbreak does not spread further.
Shecaniah, the little girl with the hole in her heart, has gone to India with her Mum and aunty where she had surgery on the 27th July that lasted 5 hours. Pray for her that she would make a good and quick recovery and for her Mum so far from home. Remember also her two brothers, sister and their father Charles who remain in Zambia; I can only imagine how hard it is to be apart as a family at this time.
Good news for the Academy: a new teacher will be coming from New Zealand in January to join the team. At the hospital we are still hoping for some anaesthetic help while I am away.
I am looking forward to seeing many of you while I am home and would love to hear from any one who wants to meet up. Thank you for your continued support and prayers.
Hello from a rather cool Zambia where we had a rare sighting of frost last week!
It is hard to believe that it is time for my Home Assignment once again. Looking back at the past three years it has been a busy time here at Mukinge: On the children’s ward we have had over 5,000 admissions, some of which stick in my mind more than others. Rose, who is on the ward at the moment will definitely fall in to this category. She is 10 years old and has been to theatre three times for perforations in her bowel as a result of typhoid infection. She made me cry when the last time she was in theatre she said, "I don’t want to die, please help me." Please keep her in your prayers as she has a long way to go to fully recover. Mr Chileshe who has been working together with me on the ward will be in charge while I am away.
In theatre I have given anaesthesia for about 1000 cases (including Rose) and had the opportunity to learn and improve my skills from visiting anaesthetists. Reluctantly I have taken on the role of Manager of Nursing Care which has been a huge challenge with a steep learning curve. There are parts of the job I have found to my surprise that I enjoy and parts that I could very happily live without! Finding someone willing to cover for me while I am away has been a challenge but Mr. Nyongi, one of our nurse tutors, has agreed to take on the job. Pray for him as it is a lot of extra responsibility.
Last year I started to lead a Bible class for first year student nurses. We meet every week and have studied various topics including the book of Esther. They are now ready to take their end of first year exams and hopefully soon will be senior students.
Mukinge is a place of constant change with people coming and going all the time. We have welcomed 56 people to our team here in the last 3 years from SIM or World Medical Mission. Many came to help us for a short time, a few are here for a year or two and one family, the Tompkins, are here long term. We have also seen our Zambian staff increase as we have received new staff that have been posted here. This week we have had seven newly-qualified nurses who trained at other hospitals posted to Mukinge, which is a big help.
I leave Mukinge on July 1st and will be spending a few days in Lusaka before leaving Zambia on 5th. Before I leave I need to hand over my various roles, get my house ready for others to use while I am away and of course pack! I will be having a debrief with our director while I am in Lusaka. I will be in The UK from 5th July to 19th December when I head to Canada for a white Christmas with friends and them back to Zambia in early January.
At the moment my diary looks like this:
July 5th - Arrive UK where I will be based with my sister in Cambridgeshire
July 17th–18th - London for prayer meeting at All Souls Church and medical at Interhealth
July 23rd–25th - SIM office in Suffolk
August 4th–11th - Holiday in Cornwall with my sister
September 16th - Speaking at Minstead Church in the New Forrest
September 22nd-30th - In Norfolk speaking at a Church in Cromer
October 13th–21st - Visiting Friends and speaking at church in Southport
October 22nd–November 3rd - Home in Cumbria with my parents
November 4th - Speaking at South Glasgow Baptist Church
December 19th - Fly to Canada
January 10th - Arrive back in Zambia
As you can see I have a lot of travelling to do and I am so thankful that I will have the use of a car for most of the time I am in the UK. I would love to see as many of you as possible so let me know if you want to meet up. Thank you for your continued support and interest in Mukinge
Liz Bennett is our Mission Partner Champion for Michelle Proctor. You can contact her for more information, to receive Michelle's prayer letters or to book Michelle to visit a group when she is next home.