A Missionary Doctor's Autobiography

by Robert M Buckley


1. Cape to Rhodesia
2. Good Hope and
 Emmanuel Mission
3. Mission Life
4. Early Schooling
5. Further Schooling
6. Medical School
7. Trip to Malawi
8. Malamulo Hospital
9. Eventful 1953/4
10. To Lesotho
11. Kanye & Kalahari
12. Yuka Hospital
13. London & Kenya
14. Kenya & Uganda
15. Walking the Valley
16. Further Studies
17. Kendu & Nairobi
18. Hong Kong
19. England & Norway
20. Maluti - Again
21. Retirement
22. Move to South Africa
Kalahari Diary


Chapter 20

Maluti Again


With the collapse of the plans for us to work at Skogli, we were contacted by the General Conference office and asked if we would go to Maluti - to care for the Ob/Gyn department and also to take over as medical director in a few months time. So our mission service had come full circle and we ended it at the same institution in which we began. Also, we finally got to live in the house that had been built for us 33 years previously.

Over the years there had been many improvements - permanent buildings for the out-clinics, a paved road up to the hospital turn-off, and a rather erratic and unreliable telephone service to the outside world. (We still made most of our phone calls from Ficksburg, across the border in South Africa.) There was a nursing school building with dormitories for the students and new operating theatres. Another advance was having 24-hour mains electricity (except when there was a power cut, usually due to a lightning strike). Also there was a spacious church building.

All these changes were welcome but even so, returning from sophisticated medical facilities in Hong Kong and Europe to the basic provisions of a mission hospital, required quite an adjustment. Strange as it may seem, this was our worst experience of "culture shock."

When Dr David Glass left, I had the responsibility of administration, in addition to my regular medical duties. This involved committees and board meetings, which I did not really enjoy. I found the medical work challenging, esp the visits to our outlying clinics, where we had to cope with everything from emergency deliveries to extracting teeth. It was usually a relief to get away on a clinic trip for the day.

Another important event was the building and equipping (and then using) a new operating suite, provided by generous donors. With the new equipment, Dr Schneider, our orthopaedic surgeon was able to do hip replacements.

Other events seem worth mentioning, although they were probably not the most important. One was the washing away of the bridge that connected us to the outside world. Actually it was the causeway leading up to the bridge that was swept away by a flash flood following a torrential downpour, making the bridge unusable for several months. During that time, we had to make a long detour via Teyateyaneng (called TY for obvious reasons!) to get to our clinics or to Ficksburg, where we did our shopping and other business. There was great rejoicing when the bridge was eventually usable again,.

A good friend of Maluti hospital was Pastor Tonnhauser from Germany. His daughter, Ruth, had served a term during which her father came out on a visit. After that, working with the local churches and with the aid of ADRA-Germany, he was able to obtain donations of equipment, supplies and money, which provided for much-needed improvements. They collected, packed and paid for the shipping costs of the donations. They even provided us with an internal phone system and came over with a team with the expertise to install it. So when they left, we had a fully functional state of the art internal phone system. We often wished that the external system was as good!

Since Lesotho is in the centre of South Africa, we were quite near to family, who lived in the Pretoria region. So, whenever we could, we planned a weekend trip to what was then the Witwatersrand (Rand for short) and is now known by the Sotho name of Gauteng. We often combined these visits with a shopping trip for medical and other supplies. We enjoyed visiting our daughter Mary, husband Nigel and the two grandchildren, Marie and Jonathan. They also made several visits to us. We were also able to visit my brother and sister and their families who lived in or near the Rand.

When our term at Maluti (Oct. 89 to Jan 94) came to an end, we felt we did not want to do another term there and could not face another move, so we decided that we would take retirement and return to England.