By Jenni Glass
When Shellie Carlson was just a baby, her parents left Springfield, Missouri, with a desire to minister to the people of Ethiopia in East Africa. With a few suitcases, they boarded a cargo ship in New York City and set out for the long journey. The young family quickly adapted to life in their new home, but after 14 years in Ethiopia, they were forced to escape the country because of the war.
Back in the United States, Shellie finished high school and eventually earned a nursing degree and began working at Lodi Memorial Hospital, now Adventist Health Lodi Memorial in Lodi, California. She never forgot about Ethiopia. Years of war and unrest made visiting difficult, and Shellie was not able to return to the country she fell in love with as a child until 2011.
After her first trip back to Ethiopia, Shellie’s heart only grew for the people, and she knew she wanted to make a difference. She started volunteering as a nurse at St. Paul’s Hospital in Addis Ababa, the capital city. During this time, she saw firsthand the needs of the staff at the hospital, including a lack of basic supplies and equipment. With each trip she brought simple equipment like stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs, but she didn’t stop there.
When Shellie returned to California, she told anyone and everyone about the condition of the healthcare system in Ethiopia. Shellie worked with leaders from Adventist Health Lodi Memorial and other hospitals to procure equipment to ship to Ethiopia. She also coordinated with Ethiopian government officials to ensure the containers of equipment made it to the hospitals.
“Shellie’s passion for Ethiopia is inspiring to everyone at our hospital,” said Daniel Wolcott, president of Adventist Health Lodi Memorial. “Associates throughout the hospital have joined Shellie in her mission to make a difference for doctors, nurses, and patients on the other side of the world.”
In 2019, Shellie arranged for an Ethiopian delegation to travel to California to meet with Adventist Health leaders to begin conversations about potential opportunities. This set the stage for an Adventist Health delegation, led by Daniel and Shellie, to travel to Addis Ababa and the Amhara Region to see the healthcare system firsthand and meet with government officials to further the discussion.
In addition to touring St. Paul’s Hospital in Addis Ababa, the delegation met with top officials at the Ministry of Health. The conversation focused on the needs of the healthcare system and building healthy communities to best meet the needs of the people.
The second part of the trip led the group to the Amhara Region where they toured Felege Hiwot Comprehensive Specialized Hospital, which serves as the regional referral hospital serving seven million people. Regional Ministry of Health and Ministry of Economic Development officials joined the group on the tour. The newly appointed president of the Amhara Region hosted the delegation for a health forum to discuss the current state of healthcare and needs.
“Seeing the hospital firsthand and meeting with the staff helped us to understand opportunities for Adventist Health to partner together on future projects,” said John Schroer, Adventist Health Global Missions manager. “Our first opportunity to work together since visiting in October is shipping equipment from Adventist Health Feather River to the hospital in Bahir Dar.”
Shellie’s passion and commitment are making a difference in communities throughout Ethiopia, but more than that, she is influencing others to start making a difference as well. Adventist Health Global Missions program is excited to join Shellie and engage in mission activities that will result in effective, meaningful development of our partner communities.
Top of page: The team from Adventist Health meets with top officials at the Ministry of Health.