In some ways, Dr. Bradley Kuhn is like many other doctors you might find in South Africa. He operates a medical practice in Durbanville, a suburb of Cape Town. He attends church faithfully at Durbanville Community Church (where ITMI’s Mark Parris is the pastor).
But Dr. Kuhn isn’t an ordinary doctor.
Two days a week, he closes his practice early and drives outside the city to the informal settlement of Stone Hill, where he operates a small, privately funded medical clinic. Dr. Kuhn gives his time and expertise so that patients can be seen free of charge. (The clinic does charge for medicine if it is needed, but it does so at a loss.)
Dr. Kuhn has been a regular visitor to the settlement for years now. At first, he was part of groups that helped repair or construct lean-tos for families whose living quarters were rotting or falling down, delivered donated mattresses and taught a grappling (wrestling) program for the neglected and at-risk young men in the settlement.
Dr. Kuhn at a Stone Hill community event.
Dr. Kuhn greets a young resident of Stone Hill.
Dr. Kuhn and others help Stone Hill families by giving them mattresses, so they would no longer have to sleep on the ground.
Dr. Kuhn and other Christian men with their team of Stone Hill grapplers after competing in Cape Town.
To those outreaches, many others have been added with the help of ITMI supporters: a community center, soup kitchen, regular church services, an Early Childhood Development Center, a computer lab, a tutoring program, a safehouse for girls and the medical clinic.
ITMI's Charl van Wyk in front of the Early Childhood Development Center with one of the caregivers.
As you may imagine, 2020 has been a challenging year for Dr. Kuhn. But when we asked him to reflect on and share some ways the clinic has made a difference for the Kingdom of Jesus, here’s what he had to say.
It has been a challenging year in Stone Hill and especially for the medical clinic that we run to benefit the community. The clinic is held in a privately funded, converted 6 meter shipping container in the middle of the informal settlement.
The Stone Hill Medical Clinic is held in a converted 6 meter shipping container in the middle of Stone Hill.
Some of the family homes in Stone Hill, South Africa.
The view from above Stone Hill, South Africa.
Stone Hill is about 12.5 miles from the nearest state clinic. Residents have to travel by taxi and attempt to get there early enough to qualify to be seen for the day. No appointments are offered. Frequently patients will wait for hours only to be told that they won’t be able to be seen and they must travel home again at their own cost.
For the last 3 years we have offered healthcare to the community in an effort to alleviate their lack of access to basic healthcare and to demonstrate the love of our God in a practical way. There are many challenges. For instance, there are more patients most days than the time we have to be able to help. It is hard to turn people away.
But, as I look back on God’s provision and faithfulness over this time, I am greatly encouraged. He has given us an opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of the residents and to minister to them.
I think of an older gentleman who had to be led in by his grandson as he was unable to see.
He lived in the rural areas and even a couple of months ago could see clearly. Then he got what sounded like an infection in his right eye. Despite ointment he got he lost all vision in that eye and now the same challenges was starting in the left eye.
He came to Cape Town in the hope of finding help. His grandson brought him to us. He had a severe infection in the left eye and we were able to arrange an urgent ophthalmologist appointment for the following morning at Tygerberg Hospital for him.
He is currently under treatment for both eyes and it looks like the vision will be saved in at least one eye.
I think of a mom who came near the end of the clinic session a couple of weeks ago holding a young infant. The clinic was already full and she was too late but the local lady that assists with folders in the community came to me and said she thinks I should at least look at the baby as she is very young.
Thank the Lord for that advice. The 9 month old had a bulging soft spot (fontanelle) and was dehydrated. She was admitted that same day to hospital with suspected meningitis.
That is a frequent challenge for us in the clinic and on several occasions I am sure it was the Lord who prompted me to squeeze in an extra patient who turned out to be an emergency. One such individual was Lydia (name changed for privacy).
She had been to see the local clinic and a second doctor in the nearby town with bad headaches. She was told it was probably stress related and given pain tablets but she was still suffering. She came as a last resort just to ask for help.
Fortunately I noticed that her eyes were slightly squint and because I knew her, I knew that I had never noticed that before. On examining her she had neck stiffness and was eventually diagnosed with meningitis and spent 3 weeks in a tertiary hospital.
I think of many young children that we see who suffer burn wounds due to the overcrowding and the living conditions or who sustain bad cuts and injuries because they don’t possess shoes and there is glass all over.
Many of them come to the clinic with badly infected wounds, draining pus and need urgent antibiotics. Their parents are often unable to afford the taxi fare to the nearest state clinic.
I think of Siziwe (name changed for privacy) a young woman in her 20’s who came to see me because she couldn’t understand why she was so aggressive and behaving the way she did with her daughter. Even lashing out for things that did not justify her extreme reaction.
She had trouble sleeping at night. She was beginning to lose hope and was clearly becoming depressed and anxious.
As we spoke she recounted, through tears, how at the age of 11 she had to live with other people after the death of her mom and how she had been mistreated and eventually had been sexually abused by her uncle. She still has flashbacks and questions as to why this happened.
We were able to explain to her how those events have affected her mental health and to offer her appropriate medication and counseling as well as being able to point her to the real hope in Jesus to heal and to forgive.
We’re so thankful for the opportunity to share the Lord in these tangible ways!
This Christmas season, ITMI supporters can help Charl van Wyk and Dr. Kuhn spread the Gospel in Stone Hill by providing medicine for a patient who can’t afford it.
For a suggested donation of $8, you can stand with the believers making a difference in the lives of impoverished families who have faced challenge after challenge and heartache after heartache by helping with the cost of medicine for one patient.
For $8, you can help offer true hope in Jesus Christ to the hurting and overlooked families of Stone Hill South Africa.
You can be part of the team that is demonstrating to this settlement that although they are pushed out, overlooked and treated as if they have nothing to offer, their lives aren’t worth saving and their physical pain isn’t worth relieving, the Bible tells a different story about who they are and what their value really is.
For less than the cost of seeing a movie in the theater, you can give the gift of health. Physical health through medicine, and spiritual health through the Good News of Jesus Christ that is declared throughout the Stone Hill outreaches!
for a patient who can't afford it
Fight illness and save lives alongside the Stone Hill Medical Clinic, one facet of Charl van Wyk’s outreaches in Stone Hill, where families live on $50-103 a month. Your gift will help the volunteer and part-time clinic staff properly treat illnesses, burns, lacerations, stabbings and other injuries, and save patients expensive trips to town, where they are often turned away because the facility is full by the time they can get there.
$8 suggested gift
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