Waltham reaches out to Madagascar

A mercy medical team, which Pastor Jeffrey Kuddes joined, offered clinics in Madagascar’s villages this March. -- Photo provided

Local church renovates hospital in Madagascar

After Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in rural Waltham has been involved in various missions, it has entered its largest mission thus far: Renovating a hospital in Madagascar.

Pastor Jeffrey Kuddes, who has been with Trinity Evangelical Lutheran for 10 years, has taken two trips to Madagascar in the last year. His most recent trip was from March 3 to March 12.

During those trips, Kuddes served with an organization called World Release and Human Care (WRHC). Through the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS), Kuddes and several others traveled to Madagascar and served as a mercy medical team. Their work helped improve every-day medical problems in Madagascar, which are similar to ours but more severe because of living conditions and access to health care.

Because many of the people of Madagascar have to travel miles by foot to reach medical attention, the mission group brought aid to small villages instead.

“They literally walk for miles and miles and miles, some for a day or so,” Kuddes said.

Kuddes brought medications from local pharmacies, obtained at cost at places such as Medicap and Hy-Vee, and distributed them to those in need.

On their last trip, Kuddes’ group held four clinics and served more than 600 people.

But illness remains widespread. A Lutheran Hospital in Madagascar is overrun with patients depleted on resources and severely out of date, Kuddes said.

Kuddes is holding a windsor chop supper from 5 to 8 p.m. April 1 at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran, Waltham, for the two congregations he serves, along with the public.

Plates are $9, and all proceeds go toward renovating the old hospital. However, anyone can donate more if possible.

“It doesn’t take a lot of money to do a lot of good over there,” Kuddes said.

Kuddes added as Lutheran hospital, it never turns away patients who can’t pay. That’s why renovation is seriously needed. Also, any extra proceeds will pay patients’ unpaid hospital bills, which is a major issue.

“We don’t want any food left,” Kuddes said. “We want to sell it all and be able to send as much money as possible to our brothers and sisters in Madagascar.

Kuddes urges more than just Lutherans to help with the cause and buy plates.

He spoke heartily with a local Catholic priest about the event because the meat is being served on Friday.

“For all our good Catholic friends, come and buy a meal and eat it on Saturday,” Kuddes joked.

But Kuddes’ first-hand experience with the nation’s issues inspired him to take the issue seriously.

“It created an incredible desire in me to try to do more for them,” he said. “Even if I never go over there, I still want to help.”

Although Kuddes doesn’t know if he’ll return to Madagascar due to time and costs, he and his congregations are set on helping others.

Every year they send anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000 toward relief; previous efforts have gone to help Haiti, and he hopes to soon help Japan.

“To be Christian is to look outside — to see the needs of others,” he said.

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