As a surgery resident, we encounter patients from many walks of life; a common language and time give us an opportunity to build a bridge, to perhaps not stand in each other's shoes but strive for that, to connect. One of the things that drew me to this career path was not simply the surgery, but the journey of taking a patient pre-op, through their operation, and caring for them as they recover. That journey is built on language, the explanation of their disease, of the operation, of the risks of that operation, and the challenges we face together after their operation. How to overcome that distance here has been a hurdle that I would say I have still not successfully cleared.
On my first day at work, the WHO-country representative fondly called ‘WR’, received a report of an outbreak on the outskirts of the capital where we situated. The outbreak was reported to have started near an elementary school in the Kanyama district (a slum on the outskirts of the city). The index case was an 11-yr old boy who died 3 weeks prior to the day the WHO received the outbreak notification. The index case was diagnosed post-mortem with Typhoid. Symptoms were: headache, fever, diarrhea and abdominal pains.
Most people would argue that the bare necessities include water, food, and shelter. Everything else is a bonus (well except sleep - I would argue sleep is essential too and hot water also, but I digress). Nonetheless, comparing the resources of the AIC Hospital in Kijabe to my home institution (Vanderbilt Medical Center) would be grossly unfair.
I had no idea what I was getting into. Before I left for Guyana, I knew that our residency was somehow connected to some hospital in Guyana and that many people in our department go there to help out. I wanted to go and help out too. In my mind, that was it. We go there to help. I had no idea what an amazing investment had been made in the people there or how integral Vanderbilt’s involvement was to the working of the Emergency Department of the Georgetown Public Hospital.
So I'm in Africa. Kenya to be exact and more locally Kijabe ...7200 feet above sea level and 8000 miles away from home.

Kijabe actually means "place of the wind" and that's spot on.Every night I fall asleep to the sound of strong wind that almost sounds like the ocean tide.
There is special power in hearing about the importance of fighting malaria from someone who contracted it as a child. There is added weight when arguing for continued funding of ARV (anti-retroviral) drugs if the argument is made by a Ugandan who was orphaned by AIDS.
Trump budget cuts to U.S. foreign aid: The program that would be hit hardest would be family planning. The U.S. currently spends $607.5 million per year to provide women in poor countries with birth control and reproductive healthcare. Trump appears to want to zero that out entirely. His budget proposal explicitly calls for eliminating the largest source of this funding: $524 million disbursed by USAID, stating that the cut "achieves further savings" to the budget.
Physical poverty exists across the world. Spiritual poverty exists throughout our hearts. One is connected to the other. Paying close attention to the practical needs of people here on earth is the open door to surrendering the need of our souls to God in heaven. So how we love each other, exhibited in how we treat each other, in the here and now will impact us for eternity.
The administration’s proposal, announced Tuesday, to slash approximately 30 percent from the State Department and foreign assistance budget signals an American retreat, leaving a vacuum that would make us far less safe and prosperous. While it may sound penny-wise, it is pound-foolish.

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