Bongolo Friends; Who and Why

Hello, I am Glenn Hanna president of Bongolo Friends Inc.
I am pleased to welcome you to our brand-new Blog and website. Like every other organization, we also were impacted by COVID. So, though we are delayed we are exuberant and excited to be moving full speed ahead.

So, you ask, what is Bongolo Friends? I am happy to tell you that we are not a hospital. Bongolo Hospital is a hospital. We are a support organization that enables this mighty ministry and eventually others to prosper in their mission deep in the Jungles of west Central Africa in the country of Gabon.

Bongolo Hospital is a marvelous work that was nurtured and built 100 miles deeper in the rainforest than the celebrated Albert Schweitzer Hospital in a land of thick jungles and open savannahs, lying on the equator and full of wildlife. It was built from a dispensary into a 150-bed hospital by Doctor David Thompson, his wife, Nurse Becki Thompson, and others. It is the medical facility that provides some of the best medical care in the entire country of Gabon and serves 1/3 of the population. It is remote and the patients are impoverished and medically underserved.

Bongolo Hospital serves over 40,000 patients every year on a budget of $1.3 million. This is astonishing. To serve with the highest levels of medical excellence possible at an average cost of $32.50 per patient. That’s correct, you read that properly, $32.50 USD per patient. And these patients include, all types of surgery, emergency services, obstetrics, maternity, ophthalmology, nursing care, general medicine and much more.

In the USA one appendectomy can cost anywhere from $8,000 to $35,000 with the average about $18,000 depending on various factors.

The work at Bongolo includes tropical disease research and treatment for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and they are global leaders in treatment and research on multi-drug resistant tuberculosis and other tropical diseases.

“But why Bongolo Friends”, you ask?
Much of the hospital was carved out of the jungle starting in 1975. The original structures were adequate for the startup of services but were built with materials that had a limited lifespan in the moist rainforest climate.

Much of the equipment is aging and some is obsolete. There is insufficient housing for the growing medical staff both expatriate and national.

Bongolo Hospital has started and grown a residency program for African surgeons named Pan African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS). In 2021, they graduated the 117th African surgeon from this wonderful academy.

There is also a Nursing School, and emerging Ophthalmology Residency program, as well as planned residencies in Obstetrics, Family Medicine, Anesthesiology, and Maternity.

This is a powerhouse hospital organization without adequate financial support. The people served are impoverished and cannot possibly pay for the value of the services they receive. Bongolo Hospital must have outside financial support.

What happens when a hospital is founded and develops through the efforts and drive of a champion like the founder Dr. David Thompson, is that the founder also becomes not only the medical director but also the primary fund raiser for the hospital.

The founder develops a loyal base of donors who age along with the founder and the hospital. Over time these donors retire and pass on. Leaving a diminishing source for financial support. When the founder retires, the hospital also looses the chief fund raiser.

Like any business in the USA, Mission Hospitals face a crisis when the long-time leader steps down. The hospital may well be at the peak of its efficiency and potential, with great growth projected for the future.

However, if the medial leadership for the hospital is not well replaced the hospital will enter decline. Also, if the fund-raising power of the founder is also not adequately replaced, the hospital will face decline.

This is the trajectory of many Mission Hospitals throughout the world. These life-giving gems with dedicated, self-sacrificing medical professionals tend to enter decline and eventual closure or loss of mission focus, simply due to lack of adequate funding.

This is where and why Bongolo Friends exists. Bongolo Friends is a fund-raising organization that exists for the purpose of enabling Bongolo Hospital and eventually other mission hospitals to prosper while preserving their missional focus.

Mission Hospitals only exist because selfless missionary medical personnel who sense a calling use their gifts for the good of hopeless and underserved people.

Many of the patients served live with little or no access to the simplest medical care. So highly educated doctors, specialists, nurses, therapist, and other professionals with great potential for wealth and status in the USA, give that all away to serve the ‘least of these’ in the world.

They serve remotely, in poverty and with little status among their friends and families who imagine that they are squandering their gifts.

Bongolo Friends exists to guarantee that the mission and work of Bongolo Hospital will continue long into the future, long after the founders of Bongolo Hospital are gone.

Hospitals like Bongolo Hospital are also magnificent engines of transformation. The motivation for all the doctors and medical staff at Bongolo Hospital is not just to treat medical issues, but even more so to treat spiritual blindness and ignorance.

People need not only to be healed of their physical pain and suffering but also their spiritual and emotional terrors and superstitions. The staff at Bongolo Hospital pray for and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with all patients.

Bongolo Hospital sees many hundreds and or thousands turn to Christ for salvation every year. Many people who live in darkness see a great light when they encounter the loving, dedicated and godly staff. The love of Christ compels them to serve and is tangibly present everywhere at Bongolo Hospital.

We are pleased to report that Bongolo Hospital is wonderfully successful as a medical facility, but even more so pleased to report that it is an effective agent of the grace of God to many who could otherwise never hear that there is a Savior.

Almost every hospital, college and institution in the USA cannot survive on fee for service income. They almost all have endowments that supply them with adequate funding for growth and maintenance.

They are only able to exist because loving partners see the need and commit to the good and betterment of people they will never meet, and who will never be able to thank them.

Many people still benefit from the kindness at local hospitals and colleges that can only exist because of the generosity of someone 100 years ago sustains and enables the institution to thrive.

I ask you to partner with Bongolo Friends to guarantee the future ministry of Bongolo Hospital to people who will never be able to thank you.

Jesus said; “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

What a lovely promise and what a glorious reward.

Rev. Glenn Hanna