Something to get your teeth into
September saw the launch of a medical outreach project from the church plant led by BMS workers Graham and Mairi McBain in Shkozë, Albania.
Two nurses, Jen and Flutura, have begun working for the young church in what is an exciting venture to help improve medical education and practice, and to enhance the church’s ministry.
Jen is an American community health specialist and Flutura an Albanian nurse. The two have begun visiting people in their homes to advise them on healthcare, perform basic nursing procedures and orientate them towards the right doctors for further treatment.
The goal is for Jen and Flutura to provide targeted and much needed health services that are complementary to those already available. The local state clinic, the head doctor of Shkozë and the Ministry of Health have all approved and given their blessing to this project.
What is different, perhaps, is the concept of rooting this community health project in a church plant. Indeed, it was the young church’s idea, motivated by a desire to help address a significant need in the local population.
It is their hope that the medical work of the two Christian nurses and members of the congregation, will also serve to create further links between the local population and the church. This medical outreach project has drawn interest from all around Albania.
At this stage it is just an experiment but it may turn out to be a fruitful model that can be reproduced elsewhere in the country where church-planting is being done in poorer communities.
The community health outreach team, tell us about their first week:
Our ministry kick-off included Healthy Teeth Week. Presentations were made in the local kindergarten, at Light of the World Church, and in the Roma (gypsy) community – all participants went home with a new toothbrush to practise what they had learned. Community health specialists Jen, Liz and Flutura began making home visits to patients just over a month ago. We have had the opportunity to minister to over 130 patients in the Shkozë area – including pregnant mothers, children, adults with chronic problems, and many with coughs and colds.
We are encouraged that people seem to be relatively interested in what we are doing and are praying that God continues to grant us favour in their eyes.
This culture depends so much on ‘curative care’ and it becomes a challenge for the Albanian people to think and understand the concept of ‘preventative care’. We are hoping and praying that the counsel and teaching that we give patients will slowly start to make a difference in their lives.
In addition to providing physical care for patients, God has provided us with several open doors to encourage and pray with patients who are struggling emotionally and psychologically.
Besides home visits, the community health team is involved in a weekly education lesson in a Mums and Toddlers group.
Every Tuesday morning we spend an hour drinking coffee and talking about both spiritual and health-related topics such as discipline, communication, hand washing and nutrition. We are hoping that our group of three mothers and three toddlers will continue to grow.
We are excited that already we are seeing the mothers attempting to put into practice some of the things that they have learned!
Other activities in this past month included weekly visits to the Roma neighborhood, several ‘networking’ visits to the local state-run clinic and a trip to the hospital with a two year-old Roma girl for hip surgery.