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Raelyn Nicholson and MOHI health projects: ‘We will need lots of prayer in 2020!’

Raelyn Nicholson’s background and degrees in both nursing and teaching make her the perfect person to serve as the Health Quality Assurance Coordinator of Missions of Hope International (MOHI) in Kenya. After serving there for a year, she visited the CMF office to re-commit to going back for another term and shared what keeps her going in the face of overwhelming need.

What led you to serve in Kenya?

“I took three short-term medical trips with Eastside Christian Church. By the third trip, I could see how my skills and talents could advance MOHI’s health programs, so I started thinking about it. Then, while in a church service in Kenya, I clearly heard God tell me “go,” so how could I not?”

Raelyn, Nicholson, MOHI, Kenya, medical ministry, CHE
Raelyn assists with a dental screening during a medical clinic at a MOHI school.

What do you do as the Health Quality Assurance Coordinator?

“I partner with the MOHI health team to create health programs and build capacity so that the front-line workers are well-equipped to make a Kingdom impact.”

What are the biggest challenges of your work there?

“Within the first months of arriving in Kenya, I knew this role was a good fit for me and the MOHI health program. I truly have a partnership with my Kenyan coworkers. But I found that Americans tend to be very direct, yet Kenya is an indirect culture. I had to learn to say, ‘How about …’ or  ‘What do you think of …’ It’s a good communication tool for any culture!

“Another challenge is the Nairobi traffic. I live four and a half miles from work and it sometimes takes more than an hour to get there. I once listened to three podcast sermons on the way to work!”

What has been one of the biggest successes of your ministry so far?

“This year we performed a school health screening recently involving every MOHI health ministry: the medical clinics, CHE (Community Health Evangelism), Maternal and Child Health, the disability program and nine visiting church teams! We screened more than 2,000 children in 11 MOHI schools.  The worst problem in the Nairobi centers was dental health and cavities. In the rural areas, it was malnutrition. Now we can target the problems and involve our future short-term teams in projects that create a long-term impact. We are also involving the MOHI parents to help with these issues through CHE groups. For example, the parents can choose to start a tooth brushing campaign.

“Now that we have the school screening data, we are also planning to do a research study to address malnutrition.”

What’s on your to-do list when you go back to Kenya in January?

“MOHI Health will need lots of prayer in 2020!

“We plan to use CHE to start 20 new MOHI parent groups. Each CHE trainer will also target 10 homes to help get healthier in 2020. CHE trainers will teach them how to be healthy in mind, body, spirit and pocket (financially). If there is measurable improvement in all areas after the year, the home is designated as a ‘healthy home.’ Our goal is to add 200 healthy homes in 2020.

“Also on my list are two more MOHI medical clinics, expanding the maternal and child health program into the rural areas of Kenya and creating an early childhood development classroom for children with special needs.

“Another very important project came from data we acquired from the medical screening this year. About 10 percent of our kids are visually impaired! We want to develop a system to identify these children and get glasses for them, so they’ll do better in school and in life.”

What do you want people here to know about the people you serve in Kenya?

“One day I met a lovely Kenyan woman, and she lives in a grass hut and has children, but I realized that we are the same – both lost and broken people, and Christ came to save both of us.

“I love that when Kenyans have Christ, they have such a joy in them and are all about building relationships.

Why are you going back to Kenya?

“I love working with Kenyans who are passionate about making a difference in the health of MOHI communities. Last year, I saw how the need is so great and there is much to be done. By God’s good grace, we spent 2019 laying the groundwork to do incredible things in the upcoming years. I’m excited to be part of it.”

Raelyn, Nicholson, MOHI, Kenya, medical ministry, CHE
                       Nine visiting church teams screened more than 2,000 children in 11 MOHI schools in 2019.

CHE, Kenya, medical ministry, MOHI, Nicholson, Raelyn