Medical missionaries to community partners

Per University of Pennsylvania professor Dr. Kent Bream, “Global health is an often repeated goal for motivated individuals, modern leaders of countries, and non-governmental organizations. Despite its modernity, this goal has been elusive for more than 100 years and despite scientific advancement.” This is all too true, however over the years there have been many people who have traveled outside of their home country in order to make healthcare more accessible to people who live in areas, often rural villages, without a physician’s office or hospital nearby. Dr. Bream’s students in his Medical Missionaries to Community Partners class focused on medical missionaries, people who traveled overseas as part of their missionary work. Sometimes positive, sometimes detrimental, medical mission work has left a definitive impact that should be researched and recorded so that others may learn from their successes and failures.

Hur Libertas “H. L.” Mackenzie was a medical missionary and minister for the Presbyterian Church of England who worked in Swatlow, China, where he aided in the construction of a mission hospital and established several out-stations for patients. While these facilities were highly Evangelistic, they did bring Western medical infrastructure into areas where it may have been lacking, particularly the out-stations. He also assisted in the creation of a girls’ boarding school, theological college, and boys’ middle school, which were primarily staffed with Chinese ministers and teachers.

Dr. Lucy Bement.
Image: File:Dr. Lucy Bement.png, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Uploaded by a student.

Lucy Bement, a nurse and medical missionary, also worked in China, specifically Shaowu, China. She was accompanied in her ventures by her sister Frances. Bement saw patients in a makeshift doctor’s office housed in their home until the Boxer’s Rebellion, when she and her sister were forced to flee until the rebellion passed. Upon returning home the sisters found that the house had been almost completely destroyed. Undeterred, the sisters worked to repair the house so they could resume seeing patients. The pair put extra emphasis on seeing women, as cultural customs strictly forbade male providers from caring for female patients. Before returning home to the United States, Bement helped build a hospital and a boarding school for girls.

Margaret Kennedy.
Image: File:Margaret Kennedy.jpg, James Kennedy, via Wikimedia Commons. Uploaded by a student.

Students also created a new article for the Scottish medical missionary Margaret Stephen Kennedy. Kennedy worked in India, where she initially taught Sunday School with her sister and brother-in-law. She later started a day school and also began working with a local orphanage. Between the years of 1847 and 1859 Kennedy personally taught Victoria Gouramma, who was the daughter of Chikka Virarajendra, the Raja of Coorg. She briefly returned home due to her husband catching ill, but returned to India to care for women with leprosy in Almora.

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Image: File:Shanghai mission conference members.jpg, University of Birmingham, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Uploaded by a student.


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