About BethanyKids

Our mission, history, people, partnerships, and publications

Our Mission

BethanyKids is a compassionate Christian mission transforming the lives of African children with surgical conditions and disabilities through pediatric surgery, rehabilitation, public education, spiritual ministry, and training health professionals.

All of our staff and surgeons are in the business of Kingdom building. A former patient, Francisca, who is now one of our staff members, says it well: “We seek to offer a holistic transformation in the lives of children with disabilities…We offer treatment, but total healing of body, soul and mind is only from God.  Therefore the mission of our ministry is to point people to the God who is the ultimate answer to all our problems!

BethanyKids’ Statement of Faith

We believe in:

The Holy Scriptures as originally given by God, divinely inspired, infallible, entirely trustworthy; and the supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct…

One God, eternally existent in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…

Our Lord Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, His virgin birth, His sinless human life, His divine miracles, His vicarious and atoning death, His bodily resurrection, His ascension, His mediatorial work, and His Personal return in power and glory…

The Salvation of lost and sinful man through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ by faith apart from works, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit…

The Holy Spirit, by whose indwelling the believer is enabled to live a holy life, to witness and work for the Lord Jesus Christ…

The Unity of the Spirit of all true believers, the Church, the Body of Christ…

The Resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life, they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.

Source: World Evangelical Alliance Statement of Faith


Nearly two decades ago, a missionary doctor in Kenya named Richard Bransford learned to care for children with spina bifida and hydrocephalus, teaching himself to insert shunts by doing surgery with a textbook open beside him in the operating room. He opened his hands and heart to accept God’s call to serve children in need, and with that choice sparked the beginning of BethanyKids.

BethanyKids Timeline

1982 Dr. Bransford starts work with disabled children at Kijabe Hospital in Kenya after a visit to AIC Child Care Centre in Kajiado, Kenya

1986 Christoffel Blinden Mission builds two operating rooms at Kijabe Hospital to help care for children with disabilities

1992 Doctors make first visit to Dadaab Refugee Camp, regular visits begin several years later

1996 Dr. Jim Wade begins organizing teams for cleft lip/palate surgery in Kijabe
First visit to Kakuma Refugee Camp

1998 Bethany Crippled Children’s Center (BCCC) opens in partnership with CURE International

2000 International Federation of Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus begins providing assistance

2001 Bethany Relief and Rehabilitation International (BethanyKids) founded in Washington, DC

2003 Dr. Dan Poenaru joins BethanyKids as the first dedicated pediatric surgeon

2004 BethanyKids at Kijabe Hospital (BKKH) opens

2005 Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS) general surgery residents start rotating at BKKH
BethanyKids’ surgeons begin making regular visits to Dadaab Refugee Camp to provide medical care
Chaplain Mercy begins the Disciplers Ministry

2007 PAACS training program begins at BethanyKids at Kijabe Hospital
BethanyKids receives accreditation of College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA)

2008 Samaritan’s Purse begins providing funds for children’s surgery
BKKH becomes a SmileTrain site for cleft lip/palate work

2009 Second dedicated operating room opens at BKKH

2010 Justus Marete chosen to be BethanyKids Director for Africa
Dr. Heuric Rakotomalala, the first BethanyKids-trained pediatric surgeon graduates
Dr. Leland Albright and his wife, Susan Ferson, join BethanyKids
Dr. Mike Matlak, pediatric surgeon, joins BKKH for one year

2011 Surgeons completed 10,000th surgery since 2004
Dr. Erik Hansen (pediatric surgery) joins BethanyKids as a long-term surgeon
Dr. Dick Bransford retires
Dr. Heuric Rakotomalala begins providing pediatric surgery in Madagascar

2012 Construction begins on BethanyKids Children’s Center in Kijabe
Dr. Dan Poenaru & Dr. Frehun Ayele open BethanyKids at Myungsung Christian Medical Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Dr. Ivan Stewart appointed interim Executive Director

2013 Dr. Aiah Lebbie and Dr. Martin Situma graduate from the pediatric surgeon training program

2016 Newly constructed BethanyKids Children’s Centre (BKCC) opens its doors to patients
Our surgeons gathered together in Kijabe for our first Annual Surgeon’s Conference

2017 Dr. Edmond Ntaganda graduates from the pediatric surgeon training program and returns to Rwanda as its first pediatric surgeon


Where We Work

BethanyKids began its surgical ministry at AIC Kijabe Hospital in Kijabe, Kenya, but we have since expanded to four other countries. We are privileged to have partner hospitals in each of these countries, where one or more of our surgeons are able to work and serve the children there. All of our doctors now working in these countries were once our trainees, and our vision is to expand into even more countries as we continue to accept and train African doctors from across the continent.

Click on the map to learn more about where we are currently working.

Staff and Directors

BethanyKids has 46 people on its staff with most being full-time. Among others this includes missionary surgeons, local African surgeons, surgeon trainees, nurses, chaplains, social workers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, a parent mentor, a hygienist, laundry attendants, accountants, administrators, fundraisers and a graphic designer. All but four work in Africa.

Since BethanyKids is made up of separate legal entities working together in the USA, Canada and the UK we have three national Boards of Directors. In addition we have an International Board made up of representatives from the three national Boards. We are grateful to these men and women who give generously of their time, skills and experience to govern our ministry.

Follow the links to learn more about our management staff, surgeons and Board members. Please also pray for us as we seek to fulfill the ministry to which we believe God has called us.

Reports & Publications

Click on the button below to view our most recent annual reports, as well as research publications and articles related to our work in Africa.