Working for children’s health

The thought of serving our Father by using professional skills came to me early in life. Growing up as a mission kid gave me a perspective of what makes life interesting that was different from that of many of my peers in my passport country.

When I applied for medical school, my main thought was that, as a doctor, I could practise all over the world. I felt that ‘tent making’ was something that suited me and it was what I felt led to do. When I came close to finishing my specialisation as a paediatrician many years later, ‘all over the world’ had narrowed down to South East Asia; it just seemed more efficient to use my skills in an area where I was used to the climate and culture. Then I heard through a friend of a project in a neighbouring country to where I grew up—and I’ve been here ever since.

In short, my part-time job is to participate in a team that works as a mobile clinic to children’s homes. We do health check-ups for each child at the homes we visit: we measure height and weight, check their teeth, give deworming tablets and vitamins, as well as treat whatever conditions that need treatment. We also run courses to train the workers at the children’s homes in basic hygiene, nutrition and healthcare for children. We reach 4500–5000 children each year as we pay yearly visits to about 150 children’s homes, some twice a year.

The reason there are so many children’s homes in this big city is that many children are sent there from more remote areas to get an education. The parents, who are often quite poor, make the hard choice of sending their children far away from their family in the hope that they will have a better future through education. They are mostly from ethnic minorities and do not always have access to schooling. Most of them come to the city at age nine or ten, some are older but some come as young as four years. Around 20% of the children are true orphans. Most of the homes are run by believers who teach the children to follow the advice of our Father’s book. In the few minutes I see each child, I try to give them my full attention and make them understand that they are precious and loved by our Father. Being healthy means they can thrive in so many areas of life.

Having a part-time job means I have a lot of time at home too—time to spend with our son after school and also to be available for neighbours to drop in for a chat. A frequent seasonal activity is to pick guavas from our tree to the delight of some of the children from the local squatter area. By being visible in the neighbourhood, using the local shops, going for walks in the area and supporting the little meeting place for fellow believers, we hope to be light and salt in our area.

My expectation that I would use my professional skills full time to help people in this country has not become a reality yet, but I am using my skills part time and have asked our Father for further guidance. I had been frustrated during this long wait until I learned a lesson for this period of my life: to value ‘being’ instead of only appreciating and emphasising what we are ‘doing’. During this season I have been reminded to rest in Him, be a branch on the vine, and worship Him through all circumstances.

Jasmine has lived and served in South East Asia for 12 years.

Names have been changed.