2023 is here and we are so looking forward to working alongside you all as we expand and grow as a charity.
Over the last year our team has grown, and if you are new and this is the first newsletter you are receiving, welcome! We are so glad you’ve joined the KBNF family.
We just want to say at the out-set of the year…Thank you! You truly are the heartbeat of Korle-Bu! Showing up several times a week, we couldn’t do the work that we do without you!
Every person that packs a baby box or other box, sews for a baby box, sorts through a pile of medical supplies, cleans items, labels boxes and/or mattresses, donates supplies, moves equipment, builds crates, folds linen, makes food and treats, loads a container, and makes themselves available to serve is helping to improve access to neurosurgical care in West Africa.
As we grow and expand as an organization, we are looking for more people with a heart to serve. If your school, office, business, friends or family would like to get to know us, we would love to have them join us!
Shirley & John
A MESSAGE FROM THE FOUNDER
January saw the launch of a busy Liberian neurosurgery mission.
Seventeen patients received surgical intervention while many are anxiously waiting for KBNF’s return.
Complex surgery cases included Ruth, a young woman who had suffered a complex cervical fracture the 1st of January. Gwendolyn, a JFK trauma nurse received her in the emergency department. Her right arm was incapacitated while in intense and constant piercing pain. A hard collar was applied immediately and Dr. Alvin Nah Doe recommended flat bed rest. Her scarce options included traveling to Ghana for surgery.
The family could not afford the $10,000 price tag as well as the travel and accommodation expenses. In despair, her father determined they should just take her home.
Learning that a KBNF mission was arriving in mid-January, a sigh of relief was palpable between Ruth and her loving family. A specialty spinal set accompanied KBNF mission neurosurgeon Dr. Chris King while Dr. Alvin Nah Doe prepared Ruth for surgery.
Stabilization of Ruth’s spine required a 4-hour posterior cervical spine surgery followed by turning Ruth over intraoperatively and stabilizing her anteriorly. Postoperatively, Ruth wiggled her right fingers while everyone in the room enthusiastically applauded.
Within 2 days, she was able to functionally use her right arm and mobilization commenced. Today, Ruth has returned home and will be a testimony to all Liberians of the caring dedication of our KBNF family.
Several babies received shunts, transforming their futures. Upon discharge, one mother called out my name as she and her husband departed the hospital compound. I spun around to “Marj!” and had the distinct pleasure of seeing a bright baby heading home with his joyous parents.
His papa asked for reassurance asking, “His head will not always be larger than his body?” I reassured him that his body would catch up and the size would adjust.
All in all, many patients and families grateful. Many interventions conducted. Much teaching, training, and mentoring unfolded throughout.
Miracles occurred as the patients and families would reinforce that without KBNF they would not have had a hope of any restoration or quality of life. Another amazing mission journey. Lives transformed. And only the beginning of 2023. We have an incredible year ahead.
Every month we want to highlight one of our amazing volunteers and introduce you to the wider team. With varying volunteer times, we are aware that you don’t always get to meet each other or have the space to learn their stories. This is a chance to meet some of your team. In ‘The Spotlight’ this month is the ever-present and wonderful Olga Lavis.
Olga has been involved in KBNF since March 2021; she’s a committed and valuable member of the Monday night team.
Always faithful, always with a smile on her face.
She has 2 amazing children, Natalia (18 years old) and Eric (14 years old). Olga moved from Colombia, where she grew up in the capital Bagoto, and moved her life over to Vancouver, BC in 2014 where she began her career in Insurance.
We are very grateful to Olga, for her continued commitment and dedication to KBNF, amongst the busyness of taking care of her children Natalia and Eric and juggling a busy job she still commits to be a part of the mission of KBNF.
Olga, we honor you and are so thankful for your life.
Why do you volunteer at KBNF?
I volunteer as I feel a need to share some of the many blessings I have received. It is inspiring to see how the seemingly silly work I do at the warehouse is so happily and gratefully appreciated, and it is a huge part of the impact that KBNF is having through the organization. It’s sometimes easy to take for granted all we have here in this country; therefore I want to give to those less fortunate in 3rd world countries, for example, Liberia.
When did you start volunteering at KBNF?
I started volunteering in March 2021. I felt I needed to do something for the community and I searched for volunteering opportunities on the website of my church.
What is your involvement with KBNF?
My involvement is whatever I am asked to assist in doing, folding linens, sorting and packaging medical supplies, cleaning equipment, etc. During loadings, I assist Gail with managing the inventory system when the items are being loaded onto the container. I also help with labeling the boxes.
Our very own executive director, Rose Woller, and her husband Jamie were recently on Global News.
They featured their fundraiser challenge from September 2022 when they embarked on an experience of a lifetime and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. What an achievement!
Thank you Rose for your leadership and dedication!
A Vernon couple is teaching their three children by example, when it comes to philanthropy.
KBNF January Surgical and Training Mission
Each KBNF surgical and training mission brings some of the most complex surgical interventions to under-resourced areas in West Africa. Coordinating a mission is a logistical challenge as we bring people from all different countries together to serve.
Our US-based surgery team was unable to attend the November mission due to flight delays and cancellations. With supplies and equipment ready to go, the team was able to coordinate a mission for January at John F. Kennedy Medical Center (JFK) in Monrovia, Liberia.
Led by Dan and Sandy Miulli, Chris King, and Marj Ratel, the team was energized and eager throughout the mission. 2 neurosurgeons, 3 neurosurgery residents, 3 neuro nurses, and a scrub tech from the US spent the week at JFK with two enthusiastic Nigerian anesthesiologists. Online training was completed with some of the JFK nurses prior to the mission. Dr Miulli, Emely, Katherine and Cindy (three of the US nurses), and Marj provided various education sessions from neuro assessment to sterile wound care to IV insertions. This gave the team a bit of a head start in preparing for the post-op neuro patients that they would soon be caring for.
Working alongside Dr. Doe, the only neurosurgeon in Liberia, ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt insertions, decompressive laminectomies with and without fusions, and tumor resections were some of the surgeries completed.
It takes a multitude of team members, each bringing their unique gifts, to make a surgical mission possible.
As Marj says, “I am only one and yet I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. I will choose to do something I can do.” This was as evident on this mission as ever before.
A BIG THANK YOU to the US team, our Nigerian Anesthesiologists, and all of the JFK Staff who made this mission possible.
Visits to the Warehouse
While in Liberia, time was also spent at the KBNF warehouse. And it looks amazing! Much appreciation goes to Helen, her 3 hired workers, and the volunteers for what has been accomplished.
There still are supplies and equipment in the warehouse which are ready to be distributed, but it is clearing out and ready to receive another load! A walker was given to Sam, the physical therapist at JFK, for a November patient that is recovering beautifully but could be better served with a walker with wheels, brakes, and a seat for resting.
Teinein – A Shining Star
To support Dr. Alvin Nah Doe and his large workload, KBNF hired Teinein, a new graduate nurse, who has become invaluable to our Liberian neurosurgery productivity. Improving the effectiveness of surgeries and patient flow, Teinein was a star throughout the mission.
She would receive requests constantly for surgery supplies and information. Dr. Miulli says they requested things at least “50 times/day.” With a calm demeanor, she would accommodate the need wherever she could. Having a constant support person for Alvin has been such a blessing. Currently, she is hired for two days a week and we would love to increase her hours to maximize the impact that she is having.
There is interest in Teinein becoming Alvin’s OR scrub nurse. This is somewhat unheard of in the current Liberian health care system as nurses are moved around as needed and do not specialize in an area. During the mission, Teinein was given the opportunity to scrub in for a couple of surgeries. In retrospect, she shared that she “loved it!”
OUR IMPACT IN DECEMBER
WAREHOUSE OPENING HOURS
MONDAY – 6pm to 9pm
TUESDAY – Closed
WEDNESDAY – 9.30am to 2.30pm
THURSDAY – Closed
FRIDAY – 9.30am to 2.30pm
SATURDAYS (9am – 2pm) ~ 11th February 2023
*Next Loading to Liberia is happening on Friday 3rd February
Do you know someone who wants to join our Team?
Contact Shirley Scharfe on 902-690-5844 or email@example.com to get them involved.
Our mailing address is:
9131 207B street, Langley, British Columbia, Canada, V1M 2P5