A Midwife for Kwong Women

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Bonté cradled the lifeless form of her firstborn in her arms, tears streaming down her face. How, she wondered, had it come to this? Healthy and strong at birth, her son’s struggle for life came to a sudden end after only five weeks.

For centuries Kwong tradition has dictated that a mother empty her breasts of life-giving colostrum for the first three days of an infant’s life, nourishing the baby instead with contaminated water. Bonté did only as her mother and a hundred generations of Kwong women had done before her, and the result was predictable — diarrhea and death.

This is the plight of Kwong women. Enslaved to centuries of tradition and cut off from most educational opportunities, they present an exceptional challenge to Mark and Diane Vanderkooi’s efforts over 20 years to see the Kingdom of God implanted in the womb of Kwong culture.

The centerpiece of every Kwong woman’s life is childbearing. During her lifetime, most Kwong women will bear 8 or 10 children. Of these, several typically die in infancy. It is a rare day in a Kwong woman’s life that she is not either pregnant, nursing, or mourning. Yet perhaps no other facet of Kwong culture is so riddled with the lies of tradition as that of childbearing – the purging of colostrum being but one example. Unfortunately, this entire aspect of a woman’s life is beyond the competence and time constraints of the Vanderkooi’s to address.

This is why the Vanderkoois are looking for a midwife who is willing to join them in the village of Chageen to help Diane break the shackles of tradition which enslave these women in such a major part of their lives. The goal is not merely to provide medical care, but to complement and catalyze Diane’s efforts to see the beauty and goodness of the gospel penetrate the hearts and minds of Kwong women, and to bring them into the  freedom of Christ.

Such a ministry would entail, obviously enough, the delivery of babies at our medical center in Chageen, the training of local midwives, as well as the implementation of programs of prenatal and postnatal care. Additionally, and more importantly, it would involve the development of a program of preventive women’s health in conjunction with Diane’s teaching ministry and our small FM radio station.

Prerequisites to such a ministry include appropriate medical credentials, fluency in French (1 year in France or Quebec), and acceptance by one of the sending agencies listed on the back of this brochure.

Do be advised that while an initial short-term trip is advisable, this is really a long-term opportunity. It takes many years to win the confidence of a people, and even longer to see the destructive traditions which enslave them begin to change.


If your husband is gifted in languages, or radio, or teaching there are numerous opportunities for ministry among the Kwong. If he is gifted in working with children, you are precisely what we are looking for in a couple. (See the twin of this brochure with our appeal for someone to work with a new generation of Kwong children.)

Other medical professionals?

While it has not been our intention to establish a full-service medical facility at Chageen, we are always open to anyone considering work here – both long term and short term. Do contact us if you have an interest in this regard.  

If you believe the Lord might be leading you into this ministry, study the rest of this website to get a better overall picture of the work, and then contact us at the email address at the bottom of this page. 

Send mail to The_Vanderkoois@yahoo.com with questions or comments about this web site.
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Last modified: August 12, 2014