Training and Teeth
Posted on: 6th May 2019
Wadebho William Alimani was the student of CMS Missionaries Graham & Wendy Toulmin in the early 1990s in Democratic Republic of Congo. He was recently awarded an honorary doctorate by Sydney University for his contributions to dentistry. Read on to be encouraged by his faithful service in the midst of unrest.
William was born in 1955 in a small village called Ekanga in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo, near the Uganda and South Sudan borders.
William’s family was poor, and his village had no school. It wasn’t until he was nine that a school opened in a village 10 km away, which William attended for four years. After that, an uncle took him to live with him in Uganda to study in the English system there.
By the time William finished Secondary school in Uganda at age 18, Idi Amin had come to power, and his rule was causing social unrest. At 21, William was forced to flee back to the DR Congo, and he spent six years growing vegetables in the family field.
A Health Centre in Ekanga
At that time in the Congo, the responsibility of health care and education fell to the many local churches. In 1984, a pastor came to take over the small church in Ekanga. Pastor Aboni came from a town with a basic hospital, and, appalled by the health needs of Ekanga, began a health centre there.
With so few resources, the church was struggling, and in answer to their request for help an English nurse arrived to begin a nursing school in the region. Following aptitude testing, William, at age 30, was selected for training. He graduated two years later and become the first nurse in the Ekanga area, initiating a health centre with two midwives.
From Nursing to Dentistry
At 34, William was selected to travel 600 km away to Butembo, to begin training under CMS missionary Dr Graham Toulmin, a trained dentist. William was apprenticed to Graham for three years until the Toulmin family were forced to return to Australia due to the civil unrest in the region that led to the overthrow of the government of the time.
In their absence, William led the dental clinic himself. For eight years during the two Congo wars which killed five million people, Willian managed to keep the clinic afloat and all the expensive equipment safe from looting.
In 2004 William and his family returned to their home village. He was able to open another dental clinic and then, in 2015, a dental training school was instituted nearby, with William having a leading role in the establishment of that teaching program.
For over 30 years, William has carried out the work of a dental surgeon with competence, compassion and humility. He is the leading oral surgeon in the eastern side of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country the size of Western Europe, with a population of over 80 million. With no more official training that a nursing certificate and three years of working alongside Graham, William has served faithfully, filling the practical needs of the people around him. This month he was awarded an honorary doctorate for his contributions.
Graham & Wendy say of William:
“William is an amazingly wise, godly, and compassionate dentist. Most health workers in Africa (and other places in the world too I’m sure!) can be quite rough and sometimes impatient in their treatment of their patients. We’ve tried over the 30+ years to model and train the need to treat patients in a Christlike way – with compassion, gentleness and respect. These are the qualities we, and others, see in William and he is passing them on!”
William is an example of the extraordinary impact those who serve under God can have in training new leaders and caring for the community. Graham and Wendy continue to train dental students in the Democratic Republic of Congo. See what they need prayer for now in Day 6 of our monthly prayer points.