Posted on May 1, 2013 · Posted in News

Tenwek Hospital honored the first two graduates of its General Surgery Training Program at an inspiring ceremony held at the hospital on January 4, 2013. Dr. Agneta Odera and Dr. Arega Fekadu Leta were recognized as the inaugural graduates of the residency program, which is sponsored in collaboration with the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS) and The College of Surgeons in East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA).

PAACSThe graduation ceremony began with members of the Hospital administration, board, faculty, graduates, and current surgery residents walking in a processional from the surgery building, down the hill, and into the meeting room. As the procession entered the room, Dr. Agneta and Dr. Arega lit a torch there that burned throughout the ceremony.

John Wright, who was serving as Tenwek’s interim CEO in January 2008 when the General Surgery Training Program was founded, had returned for this event. He recounted the history of the program, recalling the scripture in Psalm 127:1 that had been claimed as the residency was started: Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.

Led by Dr. Russ White, the surgery residents and a few friends presented a special musical number for the audience, Ma Yi Bu Ye, O Afrika. The song was sung in a tribal South African language and accompanied by African drums played by Dr. Agneta. The words are literally translated, “Return to me, O Africa,” and were especially poignant since Dr. Arega was leaving Tenwek the next day to return to his home in Ethiopia and begin work at Gimbie hospital, while Dr. Agneta will soon be going to South Africa for a two-year Pediatric Surgery fellowship.

Dr. Agneta and Dr. Arega told their personal stories and thanked Tenwek, PAACS, and their teachers – both the long-term consultants and the many visiting staff who have poured into their lives by coming to Tenwek and being a part of their training. Prayer and a “passing of the torch” ceremony followed, where the two graduates charged those remaining in the program to maintain standards of excellence and Christ-like ideals in caring for patients.

The assembly was asked to stand reverently and quietly as Dr. Arega and Dr. Agneta led the recessional. They slowly walked out of the meeting room carrying torches with flags of Ethiopia, South Africa, and Kenya – indicating the bright lights they will be as they take their skills and God’s word with them wherever they serve Him in the future.

PAACS2Applause rang out in the silence – for the graduates, for all that God has done, and for the joy that was felt in celebrating the completion of something good and the continuation of all that is to come. The ten Tenwek Surgery residents in their white coats followed, carrying candles with flames lit to indicate the bright light and hope that will continue to shine at Tenwek. As all the faculty and administrators fell in behind, smiles were abounding and it seemed likely that God was smiling too. He has done the building — and it is good!

God’s handiwork was clearly evident in this special and celebratory day. We were able to clearly give Him the glory and our gratitude and praise for all He has done. We all felt humbled and euphoric to see the culmination of years of hard work celebrated in two such incredibly special young surgeons. Perhaps it is just the beginning of sending surgeons out into Africa, not only to provide excellent surgical care, but to be missionaries for the gospel of Christ.

By Carol Spears, MD, FACS, MBA – the General Surgeon and Director of Surgical Education at Tenwek Hospital

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