Dr. Randy Oliver’s missionary travels have been extensive, including several trips to Africa. For example, the Muslim faith makes up 99 percent of the West African faith, where they believe Allah will take care of them. Because of this, Oliver has seen infants malnourished and premature because of poor prenatal health and mothers not educated on how to provide nutrition to their newborns. Malaria is also widespread and can be fatal in infants and children. Here, Oliver is examining a child that a few months earlier was close to death but is now thriving thanks to the help of missionaries and doctors. — Photo submitted
Healthcare in Third World countries is very limited, and when a child is sick, parents will sometimes have to walk for miles to find a clinic or hospital. Nurse Practitioner Cheryl Brookshire, along with this family, take a moment for a picture following a physical that Brookshire had provided on the child. Like so many children that she saw at Ganta United Methodist Hospital, this child was suffering from malaria.
— Photo submitted
Unlike the multi-million dollar healthcare facilities that are located in the United States, the Ganta United Methodist Hospital, located in Liberia near the Guinea border, is shown above and where Nurse Practitioner Cheryl Brookshire saw patients while on a mission trip. The hospital does have fresh water, with the water tower pictured in the center, and limited power is available. A generator fuel tank can be seen at the right of the picture.
— Photo submitted
When a child is sick, most parents just pick up the phone, call the doctor and are usually in the office before the day is over. But for parents who live in Third World countries, such as Africa, that convenience is not available. And if the child is very sick, it means a long walk to a nearby village or even across a border.
Dr. Randy Oliver and Cheryl Brookshire, nurse practitioner, both of Family Physicians Center of Metropolis, have used their medical knowledge to not only take care of people in the region but have also traveled to other parts of the world, helping others and also sharing the word of God.
Brookshire, a daughter of a former United Methodist pastor, had wanted to go to Africa since she was a child. “I decided to go to Africa after listening to Jamie Sabo speak at my church, First United Methodist Church in Vienna. We were sponsoring her work in Kenya,” explained Brookshire. “I told Jamie about my desire to go to Africa and through her assistance, I was able to go to Norok, Kenya for two weeks in December 2011.
“I basically was on my own on that first trip because my fellow team members had cancelled because of an increase threat in security. I was a little nervous, but I felt God was leading me,” she said.
Even though Brookshire was told she would only be helping with Vacation Bible Schools during the trip, once a missionary, who was also a nurse, found out that Brookshire had medical background, she was asked to perform physicals on 65 children, from ages 5 to 16.
“I didn’t bring any supplies or equipment on that first trip,” Brookshire remembered.
From those physicals, she discovered a variety of illnesses, from malaria to congenital heart defects. “I was worried on what to do next with these children with heart problems because there is no follow-up, no line of treatment with children like this. All I could do was worry,” said Brookshire. “I watched this one 14-year-old boy get up and dance, and all I could think about was that he was going to fall over dead. But this little boy was happy.”
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