Thursday, December 31, 2009

Kalukembe Hospital - An Interesting History

One of CEML's adjunct medical ministries and facilities is the Kalukembe Hospital, located some 230 km or 140 miles northwest of the city of Lubango where the main CEML Hospital is located.

I love researching history and this hospital most certainly has an interesting background and foundation. 

Swiss missionaries opened a mission in the village of Kalukembe back in the 1880's with the intent on being an independent, self financing, industrial mission supported by its own craft industries, agricultural plantations and merchant activities.   It was also intended to rescue slaves who escaped from the trade caravans going to the coast to be sold to the cocoa planters of Sao Tome and Brazil.  The controlling Portuguese authorities were outraged when the mission was originally called Lincoln, in honor of the American President had outlawed slavery in the USA and claimed in denial that any Angolan colonial subject was in danger of being enslaved and in need of being rescued.

Additionally, the mission was a haven for Angolan slaves who escaped the hard labor and cruel punishment of local white Afrikaner farmers who themselves escaped the British rule in South Africa.  The Afrikaners threatened to withdraw their business dealings with the mission stores and workshops for the harboring of their slaves but quickly realized that there was no better source and quality of supplies than from the highly skilled mission craftsmen. (Info from David Birinham's book, Portual and Africa)

The Kalukembe Hospital was established in 1944 and eventually became one of the largest mission hospitals in Angola, with dozens of foreign medical doctors and personnel serving the needs of southern Angola region.   When the civil war erupted in 1975, this number of medical personnel quickly dwindled because of security concerns.  Now there is are no resident doctors, national or foreign, permanently stationed at Kalukembe.

A program of education and basic medical training has been in place over the last 10 years to equip the Angolan staff of nurses and health practitioners working at the hospital to handle on their own the most basic medical needs of the people in the area.  On a monthly basis, a group of doctors from the CEML Hospital in Lubango will fly to Kalukembe via the MAF aircraft to perform more complicated medical procedures and surgeries.

Amidst the history and turmoil that the hospital has endured over the years, it is enthralling to see how the Angolans are empowered to continue the ministries of the hospital on their own.

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