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Medical Electives & Mission Work

Hi Emma, and thanks so much for taking some time to speak with us!  From the CCM Prayer Diary, we heard that you're about to start a 9 week medical elective in Madagascar, with our Mission Partners the Linleys, and we're excited to hear about it.  Maybe you could start by telling us a bit about your medical studies and background?

Thanks so much for having me! In terms of my studies, I’m a final year medical student at Imperial, and I’ve just finished my final exams (currently nervously awaiting results).

In terms of background, I grew up in the countryside as the daughter of 2 GPs, with missionary grandparents. My Mum was born in the Congo, and my grandparents lived out there for a little over 15 years (with a few breaks in the middle while the rebels put them on a death list!). So I grew up hearing wonderful (and sometimes pretty scary) stories from my Grandma about all the things they got up to out there. My Grandpa flew planes with the RAF in the war, so I thought I’d combine the 2, and as a child my dream was to be a flying doctor: I would fly the plane to a remote village in Africa, land, vaccinate all the children, cure all the diseases and fly on to the next village.  So this trip (getting a tiny MAF plane to a fairly remote hospital) is like a bit of my dream coming true (except I won’t be flying the plane, or curing any diseases!)

In the past I’ve done my fair share of travelling, my Dad is a very keen traveller and wherever we went on holiday we had to see everything and do everything there was to do, then I went backpacking round Asia on my own for my gap year (and no, my parents aren’t negligent, honest), and since then I’ve spent several summers in Kenya where my Mum is on the board of a charity. I married Richard almost 2 years ago, and since then have been trying to persuade him that holidays aren’t for resting, they’re for 6am starts to get in 4 museums before breakfast! (He’s relieved there are no museums in Mandritsara…)

Is it normal for a medic to travel abroad to Africa while studying/training?

Sort of. All medical students do a 2-3 month elective during their final year and we’re encouraged to either do a very specialist subject, or go abroad to a lower income country to see medicine in a different context. Realistically, lots of people go somewhere near a beach so they can spend 3 days a week at the hospital and 4 days a week at the beach!

So why are you heading to Mandritsara?

I chose Madagascar for my elective for several reasons. Firstly, I thought it would be fun/interesting to go and stay with some of our mission partners (in this case, the Linleys) to see what they get up to and try to get involved. Hopefully I’ll get a flavour of what life as a missionary is really like, and get to know them better.  It’s a lot easier to pray for people you know, so hopefully I’ll pray for them much more diligently when I get back! I also love Africa, so any chance to go and explore more of it is a delight, and helping out in the hospital while I’m there will be great too.

Pictures from the Linley's latest prayer letter. Let us know if you'd like to receive their prayer letters via e-mail!

What will you be doing at the hospital?

That depends on what they need, and what I am capable of. I’ll probably be doing basic tasks like putting up drips, but also hopefully getting to assist with some operating, and in helping deliver babies in the maternity unit. I’ve just finished my finals, so have the advantage that I’ve completed the bulk of final year (my elective is all that’s left really) so have more experience than some of the students going a year earlier in their studies. I might also have the opportunity to go out into local villages. It’ll mostly depend on how good my French is though!

This all sounds really wonderful and we hope it's an exciting and encouraging time away.  What can we be praying for you while you’re there?

That Richard and I would settle in and be able to get involved quickly (he’s there for 3 weeks, I’m there for 9). Please pray that our French would be good enough to start with that we can get by, and that it would improve very quickly so we can be useful. Please also pray that we would be able to encourage the people that are out there full time, and be encouraged by them!