Tom Catena is the only doctor serving nearly one million people in a war-torn region of southern Sudan, Africa. For decades, the Nuba region has faced civil war, multiple bombings a day, and very little humanitarian relief. Residents lack sufficient food supplies, and modern medicine is virtually unknown.
“Dr. Tom,” as his patients call him, gave up a successful career in mechanical engineering to pursue medicine so that he could be a missionary. The hospital that Dr. Tom runs in Sudan is the only healthcare facility in the region. Dr. Tom treats up to 400 patients a day and performs more than 2,000 surgeries a year with the help of a small staff of African nurses. The hospital typically has no electricity or running water, and many of Dr. Tom’s patients walk for a week to receive treatment there. Dr. Tom is on call 24/7 and earns around $350 per month. Along with his duties at the hospital, Dr. Tom serves the residents of a small village near the hospital who suffer from leprosy.
CENTERED ON CHRIST
Dr. Tom credits his faith in Jesus as the reason he stayed in Sudan to serve the people there, despite the overwhelming challenges and personal danger that he faces daily. He says that Christ’s mission to serve the least of this is also his mission. Dr. Tom said, “I’ve been given benefits from the day I was born. A loving family. A great education. So I see it as an obligation, as a Christian and as a human being, to help.”