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Doctor, family plan move to rural Kenya

Doctor, family plan move to rural Kenya

Posted: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 8:00 pm

By REX BARBER
Johnson City Press
BRISTOL (AP) — Dr. Aaron Jones had a plan from the day he started medical school seven years ago — he would go to Kenya upon finishing his studies and residency requirement and then practice medicine in one of the most rural settings in the world.
He graduated this past week from a residency program with East Tennessee State University’s Family Physicians of Bristol. By the first week of September, he and his wife and two young daughters will be in Kapsowar, Kenya.
Jones will work at Kapsowar Mission Hospital. Kenya is a small African nation on the equator. The nation is poor and Kapsowar is a small village of about 2,000 people.
“It’s a very rural area,” Jones said. “The hospital is about 140 beds. It has about 15,000 visits per year.”
An average of five children are delivered at the hospital each day.
He will live very close to the hospital in Kapsowar, which will eliminate the need for a vehicle. The village also has basic foods for purchase like flour, salt, sugar or beans. But for things like meat and dairy, he will have to travel two hours.
But the electricity is fairly reliable, he said, and the drinking water is twice–filtered. Additionally, the nation of Kenya has invested heavily in communications infrastructure, so cell phones work well and there is Internet access.
“For third-world living it’s pretty comfortable,” Jones said.
Jones has been to Kenya twice, once with his wife.
“Her plan was to do missions before we knew each other and I delayed that for her for eight years,” Jones said with a laugh.
Jones got his bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee — Knoxville. His medical degree was obtained from the medical school at Virginia Tech. He joked that he decided to split the difference for his final leg of formal medical education and accept a residency position with ETSU.
No one in Jones’ family was a doctor. His father is a pastor.
Jones decided in college he wanted to do missionary work overseas.
Also in college he worked as an orderly in a hospital, which piqued his interest in health care. He took trips overseas during this time and discovered he wanted to become a missionary doctor.
“The number one thing was, I was blessed to be born in America,” he said. “I wanted to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to people who haven’t heard it. Along the way I picked up medicine because I saw such a usefulness for that as well.”
The Jones family’s two-year stint in Kenya was arranged through Samaritan’s Purse. Jones will be joining two other physicians there, who will further teach him how to practice medicine in the third world.
“I suspect I know 25 percent of what I need to know to be a good practicing physician in a developing country,” Jones said with a small laugh.
But that is where the partnership with Samaritan’s Purse can help, Jones said. He said he will be able to learn how to do medicine with limited resources and treat diseases that are uncommon in America.
This kind of setup ensures doctors coming out of residency who decide to pursue missionary work do not become overwhelmed on their own and fail or leave the mission with a bad impression of this kind of work and never return.
Besides bringing medical care to the far reaches of the world, Jones hopes the experience will allow his family to grow close.
“There’s no entertainment like there is here,” he said. “There’s a lot of time to spend together.”
His two daughters are ages 3 and 1. Jones said the experience in Kenya for his children should broaden their world paradigms and create a deeper reliance on faith.
Jones said when he was growing up Powell was the only thing he knew. It was not until college he traveled abroad and realized exactly how much bigger and different the world really was.
“I hope it will give them just a bigger world picture, I guess,” Jones said. “I hope it will develop a dependence on God for them as well.”
Published in The Messenger 7.11.12

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