Voices from the Field Dennis & Nancy Palmer Get to know Dennis & Nancy

Electric Issues

Published on May 05, 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

It isn’t often that we get the chance to see a dream of forty-something years become a reality, but that is what is happening at Mbingo Baptist Hospital.

Many years ago, missionaries at Mbingo dreamed of a small hydroelectric plant to provide electricity for the hospital.  (At that time a hospital generator produced electricity only a few hours in the evenings, plus two mornings a week during surgery time.)  Others nixed the idea, and the idea never went anywhere.

After the road from Bamenda (the capital of the region/province) to Mbingo was paved in the mid-1990s, Mbingo Baptist Hospital grew rapidly from 60 beds to the current 300 beds.  In addition, the surgery and internal medicine post-graduate residency programs, begun in 2006 and 2008 respectively, have brought volunteer physicians who come to teach for 2-4 weeks each.  In 2013 Mbingo had 74 volunteer physicians teaching in the areas of surgery, internal medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics/gynecology  plus all their subspecialty areas.  As the word of these specialists has spread in Cameroon, the hospital has become a referral hospital as well as a teaching hospital.  About 70% of the patients come from outside our region, over half are Francophone and many are Muslim or traditionalists.  In this light, the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services’ mission statement takes on new light:

“to assist in the provision of care to all who need it as an expression of Christian love and as a means of witness, in order that they might be brought to God through Christ.  Thus, the Health Services shall provide exemplary health care with genuine compassion, with the overriding purpose of evangelical witness.”

“Exemplary health care. . .” Alongside the physician residency training, faculty physicians have made many advancements in the medical care available at the hospital: additional laboratory tests and new lab machines, pathology services, endoscopy, non-invasive cardiac work-ups, paritoneal dialysis, oncology surgery and chemotherapy, some laproscopic surgery, and a digital x-ray machine.  Next month the first intensive care unit will open.

With all these advancements, stable and uninterrupted electricity has become even more important.  Just two weeks ago a lightning strike destroyed a big operating light and two cautery machines, putting two of the operating rooms out of service.  (If you have never lived in Africa, you cannot imagine how many times a day our electricity goes out, or the brown-outs and voltage spikes.  Thankfully, the hospital has a generator for when the national electricity goes off, but that doesn’t solve the problem of unstable voltage.  Nor do you want to be the patient on oxygen or a ventilator when the power goes out.)

Thus it is that four years ago the vision of a hydroelectric system was renewed.  Remarkable circumstances (though not remarkable to God!) brought us in contact with a hydro engineer who has designed these low-maintenance systems for other mission hospitals.  A one-year rainfall and stream study, other research, together with three site visits by hydro engineers have resulted in a plan to realize this vision of stable and uninterrupted electricity for the hospital.  The next step was how to raise the 2.5 million dollars to bring this dream to fruition.  Two years ago, an unsolicited stock donation brought in $170,000!  There were some additional smaller contributions, then last month the hospital received a grant for $700,000!  With that huge encouragement we are ready to begin serious fundraising for the remaining funds. The goal is to begin the hydro work when the dry season starts at the end of November.

This strategic capital project  is an NAB Special Project.  For more information see the NAB website (http://www.nabconference.org/give/online/cameroon-hydro-electric-project-mbingo), or email us directly.  We’d love to tell you more of this story—both the current need and God’s provisions thus far.   What a privilege it is to be on the team and see God working here.  We appreciate your partnership in prayer, encouragement, and support!

Dennis and Nancy