Monday, September 24, 2012

Father O’Brien

Njinikom lies at the base of Mount Boyo.  The next closest parish to St Anthony’s Parish in Njinikom is Funantui, a hours walk away, on the back side of Mount Boyo.   82 year old Father Rory O’Brien is the Pastor at Funantui.  He hails from Tullamore, County Offaly, Ireland.  He was ordained to the Priesthood in 1955 as a member of Saint Patrick’s Missionary Society.  He was immediately sent to Nigeria were he remained until 1988.  He was then transferred to Funantui where he has resided since.
Terry and I have had the pleasure of seeing Father O’Brien during our stay here.  His big smile and Irish Brogue brighten those days when our paths cross.  With an associate Pastor, Father O’Brien administers to 15,000 Catholics in the area with 10 out-stations in addition to the main Parish.  He stays very busy visiting the sick in the Parish.  Reading is his main passion when his duties allow him the time.
When he first came to Africa in 1955 he was able to get home every 4 years to see his family.  Through the years those visits became closer together until his yearly visits home are now the norm.  He finds his work “encouraging and very fulfilling.”  He said if was not he would have retired back to Ireland many years ago.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


16 year old Elvis was brought to the hospital 2 weeks ago by his family critically ill.  He developed high fever 3 days earlier and he rapidly deteriorated.  He was taken to a local health clinic when he became disoriented and agitated.  He was treated for Malaria but showed no improvement overnight so his family transferred him to us.  Elvis arrived in an agitated state, crying, grasping his head and writhing in pain with a stiff neck.  A spinal tap confirmed that he had bacterial meningitis.  Antibiotics were started and he required a good deal of medication to keep him sedated.

Each morning Elvis’ mother was at his bedside stating that he was better.  Indeed Elvis showed slow but steady improvement.  He became less restless, then began to talk and finally walk.  After finishing 10 days of IV antibiotics we observed him another 2 days before discharging home to his mother’s care.  The entire medical staff shared in the joy of watching his good recovery and his discharge home.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Msgr. Anthony Brouwers

Monsignor Anthony Brouwers, the Director of the Propagation of the Faith in Los Angeles, visited Africa to attend the Marian Conference in 1954.  Remaining and traveling throughout Africa to meet the priests, sisters and local bishops, Msgr. Brouwers wanted to learn how the people of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles could offer assistance. He expected requests for funds, but he also heard repeatedly “We need help!”.  Bishops asked for faith-filled individuals willing and able to provide training and leadership in schools and hospitals throughout the continent. Responding to this need, Msgr. Brouwers founded Lay Mission-Helpers Association in 1955, and Mission Doctors Association in 1959.

September 5th would have Mgrs. Brouwers 100th Birthday.  Not only was his birthdate celebrated in Los Angeles but also here in Njinikom.  During the last 6  months a new TB/Special Care Unit has been under construction.  The majority of the funding for this badly needed unit has come through donors associated with Mission Doctors.  Mother Antonia has also played a big role and spear headed the effort to have the Unit named after Msgr. Brouwers.  The celebration here on Wednesday served to remember Msgr. Brouwers and also to dedicate and bless the new Special Care Unit.  Mass was concelebrated by 4 Missionary Priests and the entire medical staff was in attendance, even those working the evening and night shifts.  Father Arnold, a Mill Hill Missionary Priest from Holland gave an inspiring homily about the history of the Catholic Missions in Cameroon and tied Mgrs. Brouwers contribution in nicely.  Mass was followed by an individual blessing of every patient in the Hospital and then a blessing of the new structure.  Terry and I were very proud to represent Mission Doctors Association at this very special event.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


20 year Yannick arrived at the hospital 10 days ago seriously ill.  Over the prior 2 days he had developed high fever and become delirious.  He was taken to a local Health Center and was treated for Malaria and Typhoid.  After showing no improvement overnight he was transferred to our hospital.  Yannick was unable to speak and could not raise up from his bed.  Laboratory studies showed he had Hepatitis B in addition to Cerebral Malaria and Typhoid.  Equally concerning was that his WBC count was 110,000.  We had grave concerns he may have Leukemia. 2 days into his admission his blood pressure dropped with his abdomen becoming rigid, indicating a possible bowel perforation from his Typhoid.  Dr Crystal Cunningham consulted on Yannick but he was too unstable to tolerate surgery.  Yannick’s antibiotics were changed and over the next 2 days his abdominal tenderness resolved.  Through all this Yannick’s mother remained at his bedside with an optimistic outlook.

Yannick’s mental status began to improve and over the next 5 days he rapidly regained much of his mobility and strength.  Yannick’s WBC also gradually dropped to a normal range erasing the concerns about Leukemia.  Today was a wonderful day as his smiling mother was able to take Yannick home.  She will continue to provide the loving care that got Yannick through this serious illness.