Janie Leland: Meet FOT’s Director of Development

Sandwiched as the middle child between four siblings and fighting car sickness from a bumpy road full of potholes, Janie Leland had her first glimpse of Tenwek Hospital in 2002. Her parents, both physicians, had a strong desire to make a difference and often took their family on international mission trips.

leland-story-02 At age seven, she marveled at the differences between Africa and her small hometown in rural North Carolina. “It wasn’t just that African people were different in skin color, language, (the) foods they ate, and their culture,” she said. “It was the first time I realized that every nation is not as wealthy as the United States. It was my first encounter with poverty.”

Janie remembers those days of drinking hot chai and visiting Kenyan homes, holding patient’s hands, and passing out candy canes in the wards. At an early age, she began to understand God, herself, and how she fit into the world. “I realized even then how everyone has the distinct capacity to make a difference.”

After college, Janie’s desire to live abroad, combined with her memories and connections from childhood, led her back to Kenya. She accepted a position at Tenwek Hospital as the Friends of Tenwek Ambassador and moved there in May 2019. This position included welcoming and hosting American doctors, and their spouses and families, who came to serve.

“God went before me and I really loved my job at Tenwek,” she said. “I completely immersed myself into the community, spending time in the villages, at people’s homes, with the ladies at Threads of Hope, at the hospital, and in the pediatric wards.”

The friendships Janie developed in the wide Tenwek community gave her a window into the Kenyan culture. Connections she made with missionaries, families, visitors, and physicians became relationships she treasured. “God provided companionship in unique and wonderful ways.”

With the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, Janie returned to the United States. Back in North Carolina, she stayed in touch with the people she had met at Tenwek. “God provided an opportunity for me to continue supporting the mission at Tenwek Hospital as I began to connect with other individuals who also wanted the opportunity to remain involved at Tenwek.” Her work with FOT transitioned to development, first as Associate Director of Development and, in 2021, in her expanded role as Director of Development.

“God has given us money to steward, He has given us time to steward, and He has given us jobs to steward,” she said. “A little generosity can lead to a high impact. Learning and caring about people, finding out what they need, and then offering to help makes all the difference. I am so grateful for the faithful Tenwek supporters, as I get to witness the many ways they steward their resources well.”

Living in the United States, we are fortunate and privileged; we are also not always aware of the suffering in other countries. Just as with Janie, Tenwek leaves a lasting impression on the people who have served there. “The Friends of Tenwek are making a life-changing impact,” she said. “When we give of our time, talent and treasure, we actively practice the belief that ‘We treat, Jesus heals.'”

To read Janie’s Tenwek blog, click here.