EMAS Canada volunteers have been empowering others to serve through healthcare for at least 60 years.
The earliest available record of our participation in clinical teaching goes back 60 years to 1958 when Dr. Nelles Silverthorne visited the Voice of the Andes Hospital, Quito in Ecuador on a two week mission as clinician and teacher.
As a core value, improving the skills and knowledge of national healthcare professionals to enhance their service delivery has been a constant feature of EMAS Canada’s worldwide work ever since that first mission to Ecuador.
In places as diverse as Kolandoto, Tanzania where the late Dr. Willows and Mrs. Willows once taught obstetrics and surgical nursing, to Herbertpur Hospital in India where Drs. Stephen and Stephanie Milone have taught family medicine interns since 2015, we have been active in training national healthcare workers who provide clinical leadership among their own people.
Adapting and Evolving
EMAS has adapted to changing opportunities and needs; the focus on teams has seen a shift from programs like Doctor to Doctor where we provided solo locum tenens so that a career missionary could return to Canada for further education, to providing the education ourselves, on-site, and through interdisciplinary teams.
A major commitment we are making to the community of Gambade is to build local capacity that addresses their long-term health needs by training their village health attendants in the most basic clinical skills. We come alongside national healthcare workers, training, encouraging and empowering them, so they can continue to care for their people.
Our partnership with a teaching hospital in China went beyond supplying the equipment and funding for the construction of a pediatric oncology and hematology unit. Our most valued investment was in the on-site training of clinical staff; and where we lacked the capacity to do so locally, we sponsored training at locations that did not cause major social disruption to those we were helping.
We follow a similar pattern in Uganda where one doctor is in training to become an obstetrician/gynecologist at Makerere University through our sponsorship, and where EMAS teams provided teaching assistance for the National Institute of Health Sciences Jonglei in Kampala.
Empowering Local Leaders
The concept of empowering local leaders is not new. We see in the work of the apostle Paul with the people of Ephesus what appears to be a deliberate plan to ensure that leaders were in position to cater to the ongoing needs of Christ followers in that city.
Paul very early in his engagement left his colleagues, Priscilla and Aquila at Ephesus, where the local believers observed and participated in the mentoring of Apollos (Acts 18). The same community at Ephesus were the recipients of two years of what seems to have been selective process of intense teaching by Paul (Acts 19:9-10). The commissioning of local leaders (Acts 20:17-38) and the assignment to and the mandate given to Timothy (1 Timothy) all suggest that Paul intended for the Ephesians to have empowered local leadership.
Writing in 1961 Dr. I. H. Erb President of the Evangelical Medical Missionary Aid Society EMMAS (as we were then known) said, “As it now stands, EMMAS is an organization of Christian men and women, devoted to the task of assisting the missionaries on the field in their efforts to proclaim the Gospel of Christ while ministering to their physical needs”.
Since the days of Dr. Erb’s leadership, our commitment to enable others to proclaim the Gospel through healthcare remains unchanged. Volunteers continue to empower local leaders through training and teaching in Zimbabwe, China and Haiti, among other places.
All Scripture references are taken from the New International Version (NIV)