Doctors answer call to Ethiopia

by Zelalem


Scotta Callister

Blue Mountain Eagle

JOHN DAY – In the realization of a long-time dream, Drs. Andrew and Andrea Janssen are preparing to leave Grant County to teach and practice family medicine in Africa.

The couple announced recently that they will move their family to Ethiopia, tentatively next August as training and fundraising allow.

The Janssens have been invited to teach in the only family medicine residency in the country, at Addis Ababa University.

Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world, Andrew said, but is committed to improving its medical care. He noted that Ethiopia has fewer than 1,000 physicians for a population of 94 million people – while Oregon has 10,5000 physicians for 3.9 million people.

“They would like to train 1,000 family physicians,” he said.”There is certainly a need, and we would like to be part of that.”

The move reflects the couple’s longtime interest and work for the people of Africa.

Andrew said they both have wanted to serve overseas, a desire strengthened for Andrea by a college experience working with a Roseburg doctor in Zambia in 1995.

She also has worked in Kenya, and together they worked in Rwanda in 2011.

The Janssens said their time teaching family medicine in Rwanda was an amazing experience but they also realized their family wasn’t quite prepared for the change.

“We left realizing we needed four things to survive and thrive overseas: personal, professional, and spiritual community, as well as a good educational option for our children,” said Andrew.

In 2013, they looked at possibilities in Malawi, Kenya and Ethiopia.

Now, Andrew said, God has opened doors for them to serve in Ethiopia.

The enthusiasm of the whole family can be seen on the couple’s Internet blog.

“We fell in love with the Ethiopian people as we adopted Titaya (to shine) in 2008 and Zerihun (a seed) in 2010,” they wrote. “Even our first born Isaac (laughter) is proud to wear his traditional Ethiopian clothes stating, ‘We are all Ethiopians.’”

In Ethiopia, the Janssen children will attend an academy with students from more than 35 nationalities.

The Janssens want to continue sharing their vision and experiences with the people of Grant County in the future.

“Grant County is home,” Andrew said, adding that people have been supportive during their time here.

They hope to host some public presentations on their work, and also will share information through janssenfamily.org and on Facebook.

The couple’s departure will leave a double gap at Blue Mountain Hospital and Strawberry Wilderness Community Clinic, where they have worked for almost a decade – Andrew since October 2005 and Andrea since February 2006.

Hospital CEO Bob Houser said a search for replacements likely will begin after the first of the year, as a new chief executive takes over at the hospital.

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