Tenwek HospiceExpressing love and compassion to those in need
By Stephen Manchester, Kenya
As Samwel entered the patient room in a Nairobi hospital, the oncologist greeted him in the usual courteous way he had come to expect from the past several months of chemotherapy. However, the doctor’s manner became abruptly serious as he explained to Samwel, “It is now very clear that your cancer has spread to your lungs. We have no further treatment plan for you.” Those words crushed Samwel as a wave of panic and despair came over him. He felt no encouragement when the doctor said he was referring him to a hospice program. Samwel had never heard the word hospice before. He couldn’t believe his oncologist was giving up on him! “Can you send me to another specialist? Is there another medicine that I can take?” When a shaking head was his only answer, Samwel was overwhelmed with despair.
In 2002, Tenwek Hospice was started because the doctors at Tenwek Hospital sensed the hopelessness that patients like Samwel were feeling. Tenwek administration appointed Ruth Tomasawa as their first hospice nurse. With a second nurse, a chaplain, and a driver for their small vehicle, she established a program like few others in Africa. Tenwek Hospice is a rural, home-based program where the staff goes to the patients, wherever they are. These visits often involve walking long distances and getting lost, stuck in the mud, or caught in the rain. There are no charges for services since patients rarely value the program before they begin to experience the love and compassion that is expressed through Tenwek Hospice.
Over the months that our hospice team has visited Samwel, he has come to know hope once again. He no longer worries that he has been abandoned by medical personnel or by God. The nurses who come to his home to care for Samwel and his family in his final days are the hands and heart of God to him and have shown him the hope of eternity. He recently shared his testimony in our local church and now is a frequent speaker in the area, telling how he found hope where others would expect despair.
The goal of palliative care (or hospice care) is not to put days into the life, but to put life into the days remaining. Samwel will admit that he doesn’t know what the future holds, but he is living an abundant life despite his diagnosis.
For 12 years, Tenwek Hospice has shown Jesus’ love and compassion at a time in people’s lives when it is most needed. Patients don’t have to hear that there is nothing more that can be done for them. Nothing could be further from the truth!
GIVE: You can express love and compassion to patients like Samwel in hospice care through prayer as well as a financial gift. Help offset the expenses of Tenwek’s hospice ministries at www.wgm.org/hospice-care-tenwek.