A renowned but humble malaria fighter is today’s lead story in the science section of the New York Times. Unlike many of his NGO peers, Rear Adm. R. Timothy Ziemer flies coach instead of business and takes meetings with village chiefs as well as with the high-muckety-muck do-gooders.
His story echoes that of a friend from my church, Daniel Shungu, founder of the United Front Against Riverblindness. He dedicated his later years to fight riverblindness and works in a self-effacing but efficient fashion. He left yesterday (in coach, sloughing off concerns for his safety re the Ebola epidemic) for a meeting in Geneva and then for village visits in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He’ll be back in time for Karrin Allyson’s November 9 “Chansons pour le Congo,” jazz concert fundraiser for UFAR and Women, Cradle of Abundance. (The latter charity is shepherded in this country by Prof. Elsie McKee, shown here with Shungu.)
Also yesterday I heard Don Stryker, facilities director at Princeton Friends School, share news of his daughter, Ella Watson-Stryker. She is in Liberia, on her third trip to West Africa to help with the Ebola epidemic and writes in the Guardian about why she keeps coming back.
I came back for my colleagues who are tired, heartbroken and angry and need someone to take their place when they are too exhausted to continue. I came back because of the children dying alone in boxes, and for the elders who, having survived war, now watch their communities being consumed by a virus that has no cure. I came back for the patients who survive. And most of all I came back for our Guinean, Sierra Leonean, and Liberian staff who are fighting the long fight with a level of courage and compassion that exceeds anything I have ever seen. If they can keep going for months on end, then I can come back to help them.
Meanwhile a Liberian native, Judy Stryker (no relation), spoke to the United Methodist Women at Princeton United Methodist Church about the charity WOMASSI, and the women are rallying to help her collect health care supplies (rubber gloves, sanitizer, etc) that she personally mails to Liberia.
We each have a part, especially those who fly in coach class.