Chris & Sarah Downing
Jonathan, Amy, Rebekah & Samuel
Serving God, encouraging and training doctors in Albania
Albania was closed to the outside world from the end of the Second World War until shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Muslims and Christians were oppressed by the Communist regime, which kept Albanians ignorant of the world outside and encouraged them to inform on one another. The events of 1991 brought social, political and religious freedom, and many either returned to mosque and church or started to attend for the first time. When we first visited, in 2001, we met new Christian believers who were passionate about following Jesus daily and seeing their country transformed for the good. At a summer camp for medical students we met soon-to-be doctors who hoped to work for a well-equipped health system, staffed by well-trained doctors and nurses, and free of corruption.
Now we live in Tirana with our four children. Chris is a senior Emergency Medicine physician having worked as an A&E Consultant in the UK. He has trained Albanian GP's to treat medical emergencies and is currently helping a local Christian practice to develop protocols for emergencies. Recently he started to work alongside an NGO providing training and equipment for doctors in Primary Care who treat emergencies in rural health centres. He continues to develop good working relationships in the main state hospital, hoping in the long-term to work in its Emergency Room. Meanwhile he travels regularly to the UK to keep his knowledge, skills and practice up-to-date.
The road to a health system envisaged by the medical students of 2001 is proving longer than they hoped. Resources are limited, good training difficult to come by, and the quality of clinical practice remains variable. Nevertheless God is at work in Albania today, growing Christians who worship him in every area of their lives. We continue to see doctors devoted to serving their patients, improving their own knowledge and skills, and encouraging one another to persevere. Their prayer, and ours, is that together we will provide compassionate and excellent patient care, demonstrating God’s love for Albania.
Our supporting churches are:
St Andrew's, Linton Rd, Oxford - http://www.standrewsoxford.org
St Peter's, Farnborough - http://www.stpetersfarnborough.org.uk