IMG_1539 Edie Nji Judith Tom

CHEF scholarship recipient Judith Nji with CHEF board members Drs. Edie and Tom Welty, April, 2016. After completing her palliative care studies, Judith went on to become the Head Nurse in the Chemotherapy Unit at Mbingo Baptist Hospital in Cameroon.

There are many, many requests by bright young CBCHS employees and other individuals for scholarships to pursue higher education.  CHEF’s goal in providing scholarships is to train such individuals in occupations that are needed to improve health care in sub-Saharan Africa and to strongly discourage these scholarship recipients from finding jobs in developed countries, which would cause “brain drain” from Cameroon and other resource-limited African countries.  Although CHEF has an application form for scholarships, donations for scholarships have been very limited so that applications are not actively solicited unless a donor specifies funding be used for scholarships.

CHEF has awarded scholarships to the following students:

  • Mucho Meekness is a student at the Catholic University of Cameroon, Bamenda at the School of Health and
    IMG_1562 Edie Meekness Mucho Tom

    CHEF scholarship recipient and medical student Mucho Meekness with CHEF board members Dr. Edie and Tom Welty, April, 2016.

    Medical Science, Kumbo which will provide a pathway for her to become a physician.  Her CHEF scholarship funds are in a CBCHS account to partially pay for her tuition and expenses at the school in Kumbo.

  • Put a former CBCHS pharmacy tech through Windsor University School of Medicine.  She is now working as a physician in Nigeria.
  • Supported a State Registered Nurse in a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree programs at Catholic University, Cameroon.  He returned to CBCHS to direct the Women’s Health Program and has been accepted for a PhD program with scholarship support at the University of Massachusetts, Boston beginning in September 2016.
  • Supported a CBCHS employee to attend the All Nations University in Ghana and complete training to become a biomedical engineer. Biomedical engineering is the use of mathematics and engineering principles to solve medical problems. He wrote his thesis on quality in sterilization equipment.He has since returned to the Mbingo Baptist Hospital in Cameroon to work and share his expertise there and to provide training throughout CBCHS.
  • Sent two CBCHS nurses for training in palliative care, one to Kenya (Judith Nji) and one to Uganda (Mercy Chia), and they have returned to provide leadership in the CBCHS palliative care program. Said Mercy about her scholarship support from CHEF: “I thank the CHEF FUND very much for supporting me to undergo this very rich and wonderful course. Smiles are been brought to many faces and lives today because of you.”

The First Dr. Martin Salia Memorial Scholarship Recipient-Dr. Samuel Kafoe

*Update: We have now raised enough for Dr. Kafoe’s first two years of study; we’re halfway there with your support!*

Kafoe

Dr. Samuel Kafoe

The Dr. Martin Salia Memorial Scholarship was created in 2015, to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Salia. Dr. Salia was a tireless, courageous Sierra Leonean surgeon trained in Cameroon at the Banso Baptist Hospital and then returned to work in his home country in 2011. In Sierra Leone, his professional plans included obtaining medical supplies and staff support for his hospital, teaching medical students and residents, obtaining a PhD in anatomy, and starting a new hospital.

Dr. Andrew Desruisseau describes his experience in volunteering to provide medical care in Sierra Leone during the height of the Ebola epidemic and his contact with Dr. Salia and Dr. Kafoe which led to the creation of the Salia scholarship.  The Cameroon Health and Education Fund approved Dr. Kafoe’s application to receive the first Salia scholarship to receive advanced medical residency training at Mbingo Baptist Hospital and thereby better serve in Sierra Leone when he completes his training.

By Andrew Desruisseau, MD

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“I knew it wasn’t going to be rosy, but why did I decide to choose this job? I firmly believe God wanted me to do it. And I knew deep within myself. There was just something inside of me that the people of this part of Freetown needed help,” Dr. Martin Salia said in 2014.

I first went to Cameroon as a Peace Corps volunteer in 1992 and have since returned as a medical doctor several times.  In 2006, while working in the Northwest Province of Cameroon, I met a young Sierra Leonean surgeon named Martin Salia who was training at the Banso Baptist Hospital (BBH) in Northwest Cameroon, as part of the Pan- African Academy of Christian Surgeons. At BBH, his physician colleagues described him as “dedicated, talented, knowledgeable, compassionate, and humble”.   He would go on to stay in Cameroon until 2011 when he decided to return to his home country that had recently emerged from a brutal civil war to, in his words, “to serve my people”.

At the end of 2014 I was fortunate enough to work with International Medical Corps as a volunteer physician at the Ebola Treatment Center in Lunsar, Sierra Leone.  It was one of the most powerful experiences I have had as a human being.

One of the first night shifts I worked at the treatment center, I had one of those chance encounters that only come along a few times in one’s lifetime.  I was preparing charts in our giant white UNICEF tent when in walked Samuel Kafoe, a boyish, lean, jovial Sierra Leonean physician who, despite having worked in the trenches taking care of hundreds of Ebola patients since the beginning of the epidemic, still managed to wear a calm, warm smile.  We worked together all night in the Ebola tents, encouraging children like Hassan, a 5 year old boy who lost both of his parents and his brother to Ebola the night before in the metal beds next to him, to drink more fluids; he too passed away despite our best efforts.  It was on this night that I learned how powerfully our paths came to intersect.

SL team

Me and the guys from the wash team, Lunsar Sierra Leone

Last fall, during the peak of the Ebola outbreak, while working together in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Dr. Martin Salia had encouraged Dr. Samuel Kafoe to continue his internal medicine training at the Christian Internal Medicine Residency at Mbingo Baptist Hospital, Cameroon once Ebola was driven out of Sierra Leone.   Dr. Salia impressed upon Dr. Kafoe the importance of continuing one’s medical education to best give back to his country by strengthening the health care system decimated by a decade-long civil war and poverty.   Dr. Salia even gave Dr. Kafoe the application form for the Mbingo residency program.  With the Ebola epidemic peaking in Sierra Leone, Dr. Kafoe was too busy attending to sick and dying patients to complete or submit the application.  Then one night, Dr. Salia called Dr. Kafoe to let him know he was ill and feared he contracted Ebola. Dr. Kafoe rushed to his side and confirmed the Ebola diagnosis and cared for his mentor as the virus took his friend, colleague, and mentor away.  Dr. Salia was evacuated to Nebraska where he died from Ebola on November 17th, 2014.

As Samuel and I finished our work that night, I told him about the residency program in Cameroon and suggested he consider getting more training.  Without saying a word, he went over to his backpack and pulled out the application for the residency program and told me how Martin Salia had given it to him days before he would fall victim to Ebola.  I helped Samuel fill out the application before I left Sierra Leone and contacted the residency program director to give him my enthusiastic support for Samuel’s application.  Six months later, Samuel left his home country and entered the four-year training program in Cameroon, after which he will return to his country.

CHEF’s Dr. Martin Salia Memorial Scholarship will help to pay for Samuel’s tuition and living expenses totaling $10,000 per year for the four years he will be there.  So far CHEF has raised $19,000, which will cover his first two years of expenses since Dr. Kafoe has pledged $1,000 of his own funds towards his first year.   There are few more important sustainable investments than those made for education. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation today for Samuel’s journey to improve his people’s health back in Sierra Leone.  All of the funds donated will be transferred to support his internal medicine training, except for the 2-3% credit card charges if you donate by credit card.

If you wish to support Dr. Kafoe’s internal medicine residency training, in the memory of Dr. Martin Salia, please donate through the here.

Or donate by check, making the check payable to:

Cameroon Health and Education Fund, Inc.
PO. Box 330
Rapid City, SD 57709

You can designate your donation for the Dr. Martin Salia Memorial Scholarship Fund.  You will then receive an acknowledgement from CHEF, a registered 501(c)(3) organization of your charitable, tax deductible contribution.

-Andy