Posted on August 25, 2022 Moving day is an adventure in Vanga to the Baptist hospital in Kikongo

Dear Friends,

Each year since I started my career as a teaching physician on the faculty of Saint Louis University in 1990, I have had the opportunity to see residents launch their post-residency careers. This August I was able to continue this tradition. There are significant differences between seeing a resident start the next phase of their career in the States and starting a post-residency career in Congo.  In the States, graduating residents join established, well-staffed institutions or go on for further training.

This year, Dr. Mutala has agreed to staff the Baptist hospital in Kikongo. For the past year, this hospital has been staffed by a series of interim doctors, filling in since the past medical director moved back to the capital. At times, the hospital has only been staffed by nurses as they awaited the next interim doctor.

Two of Kathy Rice’s students got on a MAF airplane to move from Vanga to Kikongo to join their Doctor Dad (a graduating Vanga resident) who will now lead that hospital.
Kikongo is not the easiest option for the best-trained physicians in Congo.  It is incredibly remote, accessible by boat or special arrangement of a flight.  The roads are not passable.  Although it is the site of a small Baptist college, there is not really a proper village with even a typical open-air market.  Everything is limited or not available.  Yet people from the surrounding areas come to the hospital at Kikongo for their surgeries, babies, and health care.  Now there is 1 doctor who can be relied on to be at the hospital when they arrive.  Is this where you would want to bring your wife and four kids to live and work?

Choosing the next phase of Dr. Mutala’s career.
As part of the residency agreement between the residents and the Vanga hospital, the residents agree to serve the community after completing their training. Dr. Mutala has agreed to lead this Baptist hospital in the remote rural village of Kikongo. The financial backing by our supporters each month provides a stipend during the resident’s training which is a critical component of this effort to support these struggling hospitals with well-trained doctors.


Missionary Katherine Niles with the Mutala family getting ready to load the airplane.
In the States, when residents graduated, I did not get involved with the details of moving. This move in Congo involved transporting a family of 4 kids, Dr. Mutala’s wife and his wife’s sister who lives with the family. Since two of the current residents at Vanga needed to go to Kinshasa for residency-related activities, we were able to buy MAF tickets for all to participate in this sendoff of their colleague. Katherine Niles, an International Ministries colleague charged with coordinating health care at all the Baptist hospitals, also accompanied this group to launch the career of Dr. Mutala at Kikongo Hospital.


Due to the remote location, a single-engine 8-passenger MAF airplane transported this entourage and the initial portion of their household items.  With all the passengers onboard, much of the household items had to be left for the next flight to avoid overloading the flight.   In fact, excess fuel was offloaded into a 55-gallon barrel and saved at the Vanga airport to make room for all.
We are so grateful to be a part of training the next generation of Congolese doctors, one of whom is now serving in this remote Congo hospital. Thanks for your support.


Some of the boxes left after the MAF airplane was loaded.


From the banks of the Kwilu river,  Tim and Kathy Rice

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