Congolese Independence Day is celebrated on June 30th, five days before our own July 4th. Their closeness in time is always a stark reminder of how the truths our country's founders held to be self-evident — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — are not yet a reality for many of our colleagues and friends working in Africa. Yet even as I am reminded of how far we have to go, I am uplifted in the knowledge that the hardworking people we are supporting with your help are striving to make that brighter future a reality for the next generation.
One of those people is Dr. Eulalie Vindu, a Congolese physician who cares for 743 HIV affected children at the HEAL Africa Hospital in Goma. Her work is supported directly by your generous help. Dr. Vindu first knew she wanted to practice medicine in primary school, undeterred by the absence of female mentors. In her first year of medical school, she chose pediatrics. When asked why she chooses to do this work, she responded, “To help babies, to prolong their lives, and to see them become well after being very sick. They are not responsible for their disease. They are innocent. They die from poverty. I want to see them live.”
Her dream is to give the HIV+ children she works with the freedom to grow up and be whatever they want to be, despite their disease and the obstacles they will face. I've sat with her in her clinic as she asks the children about their dreams for the future and heard the confident responses--engineer, nurse, fashion designer, motorcycle taxi driver, and even president. Click here to watch an inspiring video about Dr. Vindu and the Children's AIDS Program.
In the original draft of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote that the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, were sacred and undeniable — Benjamin Franklin later changed it to “self-evident.” In a part of the world where these truths are not self-evident, I think about this original draft and Dr. Vindu dedicating herself to the belief that a child's right to a healthy life is sacred and undeniable.
You are a part of this work. You are a part of fulfilling the promise to each child in Dr. Vindu's clinic that a life, even when beginning in the most adverse circumstances, must be cherished.
Joshua Bress, MD
P.S. Your support not only benefits Dr. Vindu, it directly helps the 743 children in her clinic. Every part of their care--the nurses, the laboratory tests, the home visits--is made possible through your donations.