A priceless gift
As part of the ELCA International Leadership Development Program, Nathalie Lassang will return home to Cameroon to serve others using the skills she has developed during her medical training.
By Charity Springer
Nathalie Lassang has a passion for medicine and for her home country of Cameroon. “I have wanted to help ill people for as long as I can remember. My desire is to return to Cameroon to work there as a physician,” says Nathalie, a medical student and participant in the ELCA’s International Leaders program.
While growing up in Cameroon, Nathalie saw many people suffer from disease, and, although she had always wanted to help people, she only began to consider a career in medicine when she began high school. One afternoon after church a couple invited her family to their house for lunch. While talking with the husband, Nathalie learned that he was a surgeon and was inspired. When he asked her what she wanted to do, she knew that she wanted to get involved in medicine.
Most of the people who inspired her to consider medicine though are not health care professionals. “They are the people in my community back home, the community where I grew up. While growing up, many of us kids would fall sick, especially with malaria, very often. I saw people who were sick and I wanted to do something to help them.”
Now Nathalie is studying at Ross University School of Medicine, located on the Caribbean island of Dominica. She will finish her medical studies there in May 2016, thanks to the scholarship she received through the ELCA International Leaders program.
One component of the program is that it requires participants to return to their home churches after finishing their studies. Once she completes her residency, Nathalie will return to Cameroon to serve as a physician with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cameroon.
“I know that I can work as a physician anywhere in the world, but I feel my calling is to work in Cameroon. One of the reasons why I look forward to practicing in Cameroon is because I know that there I will have as much time as needed to spend with patients. I hope to inspire not only my patients, but the people I will be working with. My hope is that the people I get to assist in the healing process will feel God’s love and presence with them.”
Although medical school has been challenging, Nathalie reminds herself why she is going through all of the hard work and study. “Every time I go through hard times in medical school, I remind myself of why it is important that I not lose hope. I know that I did not make it this far on my own. God, who brought me this far, will not abandon me now.”
Thanks to gifts from ELCA members, Nathalie is able to pursue her passion. “The education that I am getting is a priceless gift for which I am eternally grateful. I’m excited to go home and help the people in my community because I know that I will be able to make a difference.”
Charity Springer is an intern at the ELCA churchwide offices. She is a student at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, majoring in public relations.
Gifts to “International Leaders — Women” provide scholarships for women like Nathalie and contribute toward our efforts to do more in the world through Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA. Click here to learn more.
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