Donor Spotlight: The Test Family
The name Sally Test has become synonymous with the child life program that provides educational and recreational activities for children at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) and Shoe4Africa Children’s Hospital in Eldoret, Kenya. This summer, for the first time, members of the Test family visited the center named after their matriarch.
Alex Rempis and his young daughters visited the Sally Test Child Life Program and were able to see the impact that their grandmother and great-grandmother’s gift has had on children in western Kenya. “It is incredible to be related to this lady,” said Rempis. “My grandmother cared so much about education and man did she love kids,” he continued.
Dr. Charles (Ned) and Sarah (Sally) Test were long-time friends and supporters of Dr. Joe and Sarah Ellen Mamlin’s international efforts. They met in 1962 when Dr. Mamlin says he was a “frightened intern” rounding with Test at the Marion County General Hospital (MCGH-now Eskenazi Hospital). Mamlin was Test’s chief resident in 1965 and recalls that Test had mandatory rounds every Saturday at 1 p.m. and could not understand why, if you were committed to your patients, you would ever have a conflict with rounds on Saturday afternoon.
But Mamlin also recalls that there always seemed to be a “mysterious donor” whenever one of their needy patients didn’t have the money for a medical test or procedure.
When the Mamlins relocated to Afghanistan so Dr. Mamlin could help establish the country’s second medical school, the Tests donated a leather doctor’s bag filled with diagnostic equipment for each faculty member in the department of medicine and also sponsored the publication of the first medical textbook in Pushto that Mamlin wrote. The friendship and camaraderie continued for three decades after Mamlin succeeded Test as the chief of medicine in 1971.
When the Mamlins returned to Kenya in 2000, the Tests continued to provide financial support. When the first AMPATH rural health clinic was built in Mosoriot, it did not have water. Dr. Test provided the money to dig a borehole more than 400 feet deep to provide it. When Sarah Ellen Mamlin was seeking sponsorship for the first child life program in sub-Saharan Africa, it was Sally Test who once again met the need.
Rempis said he was “floored by the profound love and care” exhibited by the staff at the Sally Test Child Life program. “It was amazing to hear my grandmother’s name used regularly eight years after her death. Sally Test is very much alive in that program,” he added. Rempis and his daughters read and played with the children and also attended one of the weekly Sally Test Talks presented by the AMPATH pediatric team leader. The talks provide medical education for patient parents on a variety of topics.
The Sally Test team works with approximately 200 children a day including 50-75 children in the Sick Child (outpatient) Clinic and approximately 150 in the hospital. “I am so grateful that this program exists,” said Rempis, whose family continues to support the child life program. “Kids need to be able to play and kids need other kids,” he continued. Rempis said that he, his daughters and family are incredibly proud to be connected to Sally Test and to the child life program that bears her name at MTRH. “What a worldly and wild life she had,” he concluded.