Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Help who you know

Help who you know, where you know, what you know.  Help your neighbors, clean up your backyard.  Black people are being shot on your block.  Veterans are dying of starvation, in the winter, outside of Madison Square Garden.  Why travel to Africa and Asia when homeless shelters in Brooklyn are turning away women and their children every day?

This is a question that I have been grappling with for a better part of my adult life.  These are my answers:

  1. I’m an epidemiologist.  Where are the coolest diseases in the world?  In the Amazon, in Calcutta, in the valleys of Uganda.  That’s where shit gets exciting.  And yes, Washington D.C has 155 people per 100,000 diagnosed with HIV in 2011.  The highest in the country.  (Talk about helping your backyard Obama…) But the truth is, I like my diseases vector borne.  Give me a mosquito over a young male any day.  And that’s the truth of it.  I want the ebola epidemic not the obesity epidemic.
  2. I’m not digging a well, I’m running a study.  I was given the resources to get an education that lets me do what other cannot.   I teach people what I’ve learned.  I work with the ministry to help their counterparts achieve what they want to see happen in their country.  Give a (wo)man an insecticide treated mosquito net, protect him for 3-5 months.  Teach a (wo)man how to run a randomized control protect him from malaria for life.  Kind of.  And when my students become teachers I have worked myself out of a job.  Again.  It’s beautiful really.  Kind of.
  3. I’m grateful.  That the work I do in these countries gives me so much.  It’s exciting, sexy, enriching.  I learn from learning.  My cat has become the most cultured animal in the world.  I love that my work takes me to clinics on the Rwenzori mountains.  That I roll my eyes with annoyance when a monkey delays my car.  I’m over here for an adventure and I still want a few more years of it.
I’ll return to the US to help my neighbors one day.  But for now I’m following the mosquitoes.

One of my clinics.  Jelly?

1 comment:

  1. I love that you're following your passions but still righteously acknowledging and grappling with what it means to work in public health from a very privileged and western position. I have no doubt that one day you are going to publish a book (and I will write the forward ;-p).