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. Dick Bransford, trained in the USA as a general surgeon, started working with disabled children at the AIC (Africa Inland Church) Kijabe Hospital in Kenya after a visit to the AIC Child Care Centre in Kajiado, Kenya.

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

1992 Dr. Bransford made his first visit to Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya.

1996 Dr. Jim Wade began organizing teams for cleft lip/palate surgery in Kijabe. The first visit to the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya took place.

1998 The Bethany Crippled Children’s Center (BCCC) opened in partnership with CURE International on the site of AIC Kijabe Hospital.

2000 The International Federation of Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus (IFSBH) began providing financial assistance.

2001 Bethany Relief and Rehabilitation International (BethanyKids) was founded in the USA.

2003 Dr. Dan Poenaru from Canada joined BethanyKids as the first qualified pediatric surgeon.

2004 BethanyKids at Kijabe Hospital (BKKH) opened within the AIC Kijabe Hospital building.

2005 The Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS) general surgery residents began taking pediatric surgery rotations at BKKH. BethanyKids surgeons began making regular visits to Dadaab Refugee Camp to provide medical care. Chaplain Mercy began the Disciplers’ Ministry in Kenya. BethanyKids Canada was established.

2007 The PAACS pediatric surgery training program began at BKKH under the direction of Dr. Dan Poenaru. BethanyKids received accreditation by the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) for 2 years of the 3-year training program.

2008 Samaritan’s Purse began providing financial support for children’s surgery at BKKH. BKKH became a site for cleft lip/palate work funded by SmileTrain.

2009 A second operating room designated full-time for BKKH opened.

2010 Mr. Justus Marete was appointed as the BethanyKids Director for Africa. The graduation took place of Dr. Heuric Rakotomalala as the first graduate of the BKKH 3-year Pediatric Surgery Training Program. Dr. Leland Albright and his wife, Susan Ferson, came to BKKH to lead the pediatric neurosurgery program. Dr. Mike Matlak, pediatric surgeon, came to BKKH for one year.

2011 BKKH surgeons completed the 10,000th surgery since 2004. Dr. Erik Hansen (pediatric surgery) joined BKKH as a long-term missionary surgeon from the USA. Dr. Dick Bransford retired after a life-time in Africa as a medical missionary. Dr. Heuric Rakotomalala began providing pediatric surgery in Madagascar – the first country for BethanyKids to work in outside Kenya. BethanyKids UK was established.

2012 Construction began on the BethanyKids Children’s Center on the site of AIC Kijabe Hospital. Dr. Dan Poenaru and newly-graduated Dr. Frehun Ayele established a BethanyKids site at Myungsung Christian Medical Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Dr. Ivan Stewart was appointed as the interim Executive Director for BethanyKids.

2013 Dr. Aiah Lebbie and Dr. Martin Situma graduated from the pediatric surgery training program and established new sites in their home countries of Sierra Leone and Uganda.

2015 Mr. Gary Dowd was appointed as the Executive Director for BethanyKids.

2016 The new BethanyKids Children’s Centre (BKCC) opened its doors to patients. Mr. Malcolm Robinson was appointed as Executive Director. Our surgeons across Africa gathered together in Kijabe for the first BethanyKids Pediatric Surgeons’ Conference. Dr. Edmond Ntaganda graduated from the pediatric surgery training program and returned to Rwanda as its first pediatric surgeon.

2017 Dr. George Ngock graduated from the pediatric surgery training program and returned to Cameroon. Dr. Alain Ndibanji from Rwanda was accepted as a trainee.


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.