After spending a wonderful holiday season in the US, Thomas and Lita arrived back to Rwanda for another year of service, opportunities, and adventures. They were warmly greeted by some of our Rwanda team and their sweet children. When asked about their time at home in the US and all that is to come in 2023, they responded, “We have been thoroughly blessed by being with our beloved children and our incredible friends, supporters, and the US team. We have so many new ministry partners that joined us at the Gala in November, and we are thrilled with these new friendships. Our hearts are always in two places now and it has been refreshing to connect again with those we love so much in the US. Looking forward, 2023 will be a very full year. We are excited to work on the Hope Dental Center, holding numerous outreaches, hosting mission teams, and continuing to train and oversee our dental team in Rwanda. We are so blessed God has called us to this work, and even now we are awed by this privilege. We are beyond grateful for everyone that stands with us. We can’t wait to see what the Lord brings!”
The village of Ngeruka sits two hours outside the capital city Kigali. It is a rural community and in 2020 a young woman from Ngeruka made the long journey to our clinic. An untreated oral infection had spread throughout her body, and she was seriously ill by the time she reached us. Shockingly, she passed away only moments after sitting in our dental chair. In her honor we pledged to open a clinic in Ngeruka.
On October 5, 2022, His Hands on Africa officially opened a satellite clinic at Ngeruka Health Center. We worked closely with local health and government officials to establish this first ever public dental clinic in the history of Ngeruka. We provided the construction, equipment and supplies and the Ministry of Health is staffing the clinic with a dental therapist. We now have a relationship where we provide ongoing training and supplies.
The clinic serves nearly 100,000 Rwandans living in Ngeruka and the surrounding villages who no longer have to travel long distances to receive much needed dental services.
We are so grateful to our partners who made this possible through their donations. With your continued support, trust, and commitment, together we will open more and more clinics, ensuring more Rwandans receive the care they need.
We partnered with The Roots Network and Dream Medical Center who brought dental professionals from Rwanda, India, Canada, Korea, and the US to join hands and hearts for a two-day mobile clinic in Kayego, located in Gatisbo district in the Eastern Province, a three-hour drive outside of Kigali. Here, we set up 8 dental stations and screened over 800 children. We provided dental treatments to many children and adults in the community.
We discovered that 70% of the children were suffering from dental fluorosis, which is caused by absorbing too much fluoride over a long period when the teeth are forming under the gums. Fluorosis can cause white or brown discoloration on tooth enamel or irregularities on the tooth surface. The effects are permanent and may darken over time. Some cases were severe, including tooth loss. Only children aged 8 years and younger are at risk because this is when permanent teeth are developing; children older than 8 years, adolescents, and adults cannot develop dental fluorosis. In communities where natural levels exceed 2 parts per million, the CDC recommends that parents give children water from other sources. Kageyo had 2.7 ppm of Fluoride. We made a report of the data collected and submitted our findings to the Ministry of Health for further investigation and resolution of this issue.
In addition to providing screenings, extractions and fillings, we had the opportunity to pray with many. As Lita talked with the child featured, she shared the gospel message, explaining how much the Lord loved him. At that moment, he accepted Jesus as his
savior! Truly a wonderful day!
As I return from a one-month leave, I’m happy to see that the Nyamata compassion community clinic is running well. It has officially been upgraded to a teaching hospital, and I believe the transformation of the dental clinic played a significant role. The HHOA Rwanda team is exploring ways to create a more sustainable system for Nyamata and is continuing to pursue the completion of the satellite clinic in Ngeruka by the end of the year.
In addition to the development of the compassion community clinic, the HHOA Rwanda team has been growing and developing as well. For the past year, we have had two Korean dental missionaries working with the HHOA team, and just recently, Dr. Park completed his one-year internship and is now free to work and learn at our clinic in Nyamata. Dr. Jang recently graduated from dental school and has one more year in his internship before he can join the team at Nyamata full-time. So for the next year, we will have THREE of our doctors working with me at Nyamata!
Two of our Rwandan doctors, Dr. Alex and Dr. Aimable, are also growing their dental skills and knowledge to better serve their community and country. Usually, Rwandan doctors are required to serve at a public hospital for 4 years after completing their internship. However, I recently found out that if they are accepted to a specialty program outside of Rwanda (Rwanda has none), they only have to serve two years. In a nation of 12 million people, Rwanda only has two oral surgeons, so the need for specialists is very high! As a result, Dr. Alex and Dr. Aimable are in the process of applying to oral surgery programs in several countries. If accepted, they will be spending four years outside of Rwanda and will return to work for HHOA in various capacities. They will also have the opportunity to serve the country by teaching at the dental school. Please pray that both will get accepted into a program.
To commemorate World Oral Health Day in March, the HHOA Rwanda team went on their first outreach since pre-COVID. We visited the Vineyard Christian School, which was established by one of our dear friends. It felt wonderful to be out in the community again sharing God's abundant love! Since then, our team has invited the children who required urgent treatment to the HHOA clinic where our team of dentists was able to care for them. We played games with the kids while they waited for their turn and had an absolute blast!
Overall, HHOA Rwanda screened 550 children and treated 49 of them with 31 fillings and 41 extractions. It was our first outreach, and we were blessed as richly as the children we served.
January - Ministry Update
2021 - what an amazing year! Despite the many challenges of relocating to a new country and dealing with a virus that just wouldn’t go away, God was infinitely gracious and blessed HHOA richly. Lita and I have found our new church, New Life Bible Church, that we now call home in Rwanda. We have connected with a vibrant, loving missionary community, completed many projects, and met nearly all the goals, including:
When I look back on what God led us to accomplish and realize all the blood, sweat, and tears that went into last year alone, I wonder, “How did we do all that?” It was only through God’s Grace that this was accomplished.
As we plan for 2022, God gave me the word “Community.” God delights in His people coming together as a community for the good of others. HHOA will continue to build clinics and complete new water projects. But, just as the church is not the building, HHOA is not the clinics. HHOA’s foundation is the community of dental care providers who are united and on fire for God and His Kingdom. This foundation will help us grow deeper in our faith and allow us to impart into the hearts of our dental team just what it means to live the life of Luke 9:23: to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Jesus.
Lita and I will invest all we have into the lives of our dental team as we grow together as disciples of Jesus. We are hoping that we will eventually get past COVID and its many restrictions. Our HHOA dental team will be visiting the villages in Rwanda several times in 2022. As we provide free dental treatment, we will also freely share the Gospel. We will take our portable dental units and go deep into the villages in search of the “one lost sheep,” healing and blessing them in the name of Jesus. Just thinking about this fills my heart with great anticipation and joy!
Please continue with us on this amazing journey! As you support HHOA through donations and prayers — we want you also to enjoy the fruits of the seeds you have planted. We will keep you abreast of what we’re accomplishing on a regular basis.
We send our deepest gratitude for your love and support and pray that God blesses you with His limitless love and Shalom in 2022.
Tom and Lita
A newspaper article was published on September 27 on Igihe.com, one of the major newspapers in Rwanda. Almost immediately, we received phone calls and emails. Since then, our clinic has been fully booked with a waiting list for appointments.
The article shared how HHOA has upgraded the dental clinic at Nyamata Hospital and brought state-of-the-art dental treatment to the villages of Rwanda. Our clinic, which serves a District of nearly a half-million people, will provide quality dental care to those without access prior to our clinic.
The second newspaper article went out on October 15 to announce the official opening of the Compassion Community Dental Clinic, where the Minister of Health, the mayor of the district, and many other officials celebrated with us.
Two months ago, our team received a patient from a village far from the Nyamata District Hospital. The patient was in severe pain after having a tooth removed by a nurse (who was not trained in dentistry) in her village. Because she did not have the means to travel to the hospital, the patient relied on the nurse’s help. The treatment led to complications and a severe post-operative infection.
Shortly after arriving at the hospital, the woman began having seizures and then went into shock and died in the dental chair, right in front of us.
Her death was totally preventable. This woman died unnecessarily from an infection due to the inadequate “care” she received. Even more heartbreaking was the fact that the woman was eight months pregnant… she should be alive, well and joyously caring for her infant.
On May 22, 2021, HHOA Rwanda team members will run from the Nyamata District Hospital to the Ngeruka Health Center located near the woman’s village 14 miles (22.5 km) away to bring attention to the arduous journey that most Rwandans must make for even the simplest dental treatment, and raise $25,000 to equip the Ngeruka Health Center with up-to-date dental equipment and trained staff which will prevent tragic events like this from happening again.
Running such a distance will be a challenge for our team, but we will run for the lost sheep - 'The One' - to whom we can share the love of Jesus.
Please join hands with us.
Watch the highlight video here.
Upon arrival last year, we met with our His Hands On Africa Rwanda team and shared our hopes and dreams with them. March of this year, we all gathered to visited our newly constructed Compassion Community Dental Clinic at Nyamata Hospital and had a time of fellowship at our new home. God has blessed our team and we are growing! We now have 14 dental therapists and dental surgeons who can delivery dental care and share the love of God with the people of Rwanda!
In July, we were told that Rwanda would allow foreigners into the country beginning in August. Despite the risks of traveling at the time, we knew that it was God’s plan for us to finally make the move. It was not easy clearing out our house that we had lived in for 20 years and fitting everything we would need in Rwanda in a container that would take months to arrive at our new home. But with the help of our children and many friends, we were able to get it all done and leave for Rwanda with four suitcases. Despite all the craziness, we were in complete peace as we embarked on our new journey.