The Dutch team
Since 2008 the Dutch have been involved in the Masanga Hospital Rehabilitation project with the arrival of the first tropical doctors, Frank van Raaij and Wendelien Planten. The FranCa Masanga foundation was founded in 2009 by Frank’s family and friends to support the work in Masanga. It was named after Frank and his partner Carolien. Also after their return the foundation remained active raising funds and supporting staff in further education.
With the formation of the new international board of the Masanga Rehabilitation Project a representative from the Dutch foundation was asked to join. This also prompted the Dutch foundation to change the name to Masanga Netherlands in 2013 and start afresh with a new board including a former Masanga doctor (Frank van Raaij), a trainer from the Capacare surgical training program (Marco Versluis) and a nurse who spent many months working in Masanga (Janita van Duinen).
From 2008 there has been constant presence of Dutch tropical doctors fulfilling the task of ground doctors at Masanga Hospital, usually for a year or longer.
June 2008 – June 2010: Frank and Carolien
Frank van Raaij and his partner Carolien Reumer had the specific mission to start the maternity unit in Masanga Hospital. There were far many more problems to tackle before they could get started with that. Together with Wendelien and Bart they made a lot of improvement in logistics, medication supply and training of OT and anaesthesia personel. During her stay till May 2009 Carolien was in charge of nursing and functioned as anesthetist nurse in OT.
In the second year of Frank’s stay the maternity unit became functional and a small blood bank was started as well as a limited supply of running water for the OT-complex and laundry house.
Frank is still active in the project as chairman of Masanga Netherlands, member of the international board and trainer in the Surgical Training Program.
After her return Carolien qualified as a midwife after a two-year training in Belgium. She now practices in the hospital in Emmen, The Netherlands.
July 2008 – July 2009: Wendelien and Bart
Wendelien was mainly responsible for the paediatric ward: making protocols and training the nursing staff were her main activities beside the day-to-day care of the patients. During her stay she renovated the paediatric ward thanks to support from friends and family from The Netherlands.
The second half year of her stay she was joined by her husband Bart who just finished his General Practitioner specialization. He spent a lot of time teaching Community Health Officer students during their practicals in Masanga. Treating outpatients and supervising the newly established eye clinic were his other main activities.
Wendelien is now in training to be a General Practitioner, Bart has his own practice in Aalten, The Netherlands. Since their return they were blessed with two daughters, Marieke and Judith.
April 2010 – 2012: Anne Marie and Martijn
Anne Marie was Medical Officer in Charge for 1.5 years and spent 6 months as the only doctor in the hospital. She continued the establishment of the maternity unit and coordinated the Nurse-aide training 2010-2011. Also at the start of the Surgical Training Program she acted as teacher for the first students. She also did hundreds of medical check-ups for personel of the local mining companies to generate income for the hospital. She is now in training to become a pediatrician.
Martijn main activity was to streamline and professionalize the Masanga Hospital Sustainability Enterprises into a profitable part of the project. He established and maintained many valuable contacts with companies like Motorcare and mining companies. He was also active in the hospital board as financial manager for some time. Back in Holland he is a project engineer at Huck Torimex BV
Anne Marie is now in training to become a pediatrician and Martijn is a project engineer at Huck Torimex in the Netherlands. They have a son named Niek.
January 2011 – July 2013: Alex and Annemarie
Doctor Alex van Duinen came to Masanga with his wife Annemarie and their children in January 2011. At that time the surgical training program started with the first two students. By the time he left in the summer of 2013 the STP had grown to a well-known training program for doctors and non-physician clinicians with more than 20 students in 8 hospitals throughout the country.
During his time in Masanga the hospital grew in every way. The number of patients, operations and births increased. Opening the maternity ward, emergency ward and second operating theatre contributed to this increase in activity. Besides the improvement in the hospital they also witnessed the renovation of houses on the compound, renovation of the water supply system and other facilities.
After their return the whole family moved to Norway where Dr. Alex is working in the surgery department of St. Olav’s Hospital in Norway. He will stay involved in the project as board member of CapaCare.
January 2012 – June 2013: Josien and Bart
Dr Josien Westendorp was one of the resident doctors in Masanga from January 2012 to the spring of 2013. She speaks of her experience at Masanga in the interview with Dr Josien.
Bart-Jan Metz, the partner of Dr Josien was the logistics manager for Masanga during the same period. He was also instrumental in managing the rebuilding of the Grace Emergency Admissions Unit on the ground in Masanga. Bart speaks of his experience at Masanga in the interview with Bart.
These interviews were conducted on the veranda of the volunteers’ accommodation compound on the Masanga Hospital Campus. A beautiful backdrop!
June 2013 – present: Claudia and Matthijs
Claudia is presently the Medical Officer in Charge at Masanga. She is actively involved in the management of the hospital beside her clinical work. Matthijs is coordinating the renovation of the Pediatric Ward and working with the tailor shop and carpentry of the project, trying to improve their revenue.
November 2013 – present: Bart and Pauline
Bart finished his medical studies in 2008 with an internship in Zambia and then started his training as tropical doctor. His great interest in tropical medicine and international health is based on various reasons. Besides the great adventure and cross-cultural experience a sense of health inequality in our world is a strong motivation. People in poor countries also deserve good healthcare. The Nobel prize winner Albert Schweitzer put it this way, “the purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others”. This Christian value has been part of our decision to leave our country.
Pauline, a biologist, fully supports the move to Sierra Leone. Recently she finished years of scientific research in ecotoxicology with her PhD in Amsterdam. What her future role will be is not completely set, but she is looking forward to our new life in Masanga.
The Dutch network
A number of Dutch organizations and institutions contribute to the Masanga Hospital project:
Masanga Netherlands raises funds for running Masanga Hospital and coordinates scholarships for further education of hospital staff.
The Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam provides training for doctors for working in low-resource settings. All our resident doctors attended the Dutch Tropical Medicine and International Health course.
Doctors of the World Netherlands organizes Operation Smile in Sierra Leone. Masanga Hospital is one of the hospitals where a team of plastic surgeons comes to operate cleft lips and palates and post-burn contractures.