A story from PENN Live today profiles the Lehman family, who will move to Niger to work for the hospital. Leron Lehman will begin work as the hospital's executive director.
Most Americans probably wouldn’t trade the comforts of home for the challenges of establishing a hospital in Africa, but two local families have.
Leron and Chris Lehman were living the typical American life: Leron was successful at his job as executive vice president and chief financial officer at a medical transcription company in Harrisburg, and Chris was busy looking after three kids and a dog and volunteering at school and at church.
Then, the Monaghan Twp. couple decided to change it up.
The hospital initially will have two doctors on staff. The medical director, Dr. Gary Roark, an anesthesiologist from Lebanon, has just arrived in Niger with his wife, Karina, and children Erica, 21, and Daniel, 16.
Much work is on tap for this summer, with hospital construction to finish, 45 employees to hire and training programs to begin, all in an effort to open doors to patients in September, Leron said. The hospital will also serve as a training center for Nigerian doctors and nurses in advanced specialty surgery and patient care.
The Lehmans had always prepared their kids — Drew, 13, Ben, 11, and Becca, 9 — that life might change. “We talked to our kids on a regular basis about the possibility of living and working cross culturally. We wanted them to have a broader world view than what we thought we could provide them within the U.S.,” said Chris, 40.
Surprisingly, the Lehman children were more excited than upset about moving to Africa for at least three years, maybe more. While leaving family, friends and their dog Daphne behind was hard, now they say they’re not very homesick, and they love their new house — small but with a pool — and their school.