Adjacent to Hope Africa University in Burundi’s capital city, Bujumbura, stands the Van Norman Clinic named appreciatively for Canadian Free Methodists Ian and Alice Van Norman.
The Scripture at its dedication was from Ezekiel 47:9 (NASB): “Everything will live where the river goes.”
Little did those who stood there and heard these words anticipate the dimensions of ministry this little hospital would have and the critical difference it would make in thousands of lives. Its very existence embodies the founding theme of Hope Africa University of which it is a part, “A University Facing African Realities.” These realities include childbirth deaths (sometimes of mother and child), intestinal problems, malaria, surgical needs and many others. Here is a brief description of what happens in the clinic as reported by Dr. Randall Bond, a pediatrician and the dean of the Frank Ogden School of Medicine, who frequently makes rounds at the clinic:
- Trending to 34,000 consultations in 2018
- In the first three months of 2018, 414 normal deliveries, 254 difficult deliveries, 200 C-sections, 140 hospitalizations for pregnancy complications, and no maternal deaths (in a country where maternal deaths are one in every 100) — a tribute to the skill and dedication of the staff.
Dr. Fulgence Yamuremye, the clinic’s medical director, reports, “Because of the good care we give our patients, the Van Norman Clinic has growing respect and reputation far beyond our immediate community.”
Pastor Innocent is the clinic chaplain. He does morning prayers for the staff, visits throughout the wards (more than 100 beds, all full, all the time) and does evangelistic presentations on the clinic porch with video support. (Chaplain Innocent, nearly overwhelmed with work, is asking for the appointment of a second chaplain.)
The Van Norman Clinic is also an integral part of training for medical and nursing students. Dr. Bond comments, “What a difference the increased patient count makes on the educational experience of the students!”
A visit to the clinic means threading your way down crowded hallways, meeting medical staff scurrying about their work, and amazingly noting clusters of Muslim women who clearly like the Van Norman Clinic where they are treated kindly and well — and they get to eavesdrop on the gospel.
Looking to the future, Dr. Fulgence has applied for a grant to buy an ambulance for emergency patient transport (a replacement for one literally worn out). Plans are underway to install a solar power system to ensure reliable medical power to the clinic and the university campus. Steady power for the clinic will improve care day and night, X-rays, surgery and refrigeration while even making possible a blood bank.
This report is provided by Friends of Hope Africa University Inc., the North America-based charity whose only purpose is to assist Hope Africa University and its branches—Kibuye Hope Hospital and Van Norman Clinic —through prayer along with financial and academic support. The Friends of Hope Africa University Board of Directors consists of 20 volunteers from across the United States and Canada who bring a wide range of academic and professional experience. John P. Ellis is the president, and Bishop Emeritus Gerald E. Bates is the chairman.1