Fellows' Blog Archives

Public Health: All Posts


Diagnosis Inconclusive
by | February 17, 2012

Elastic band
on pastel green
Gnarled hands
Torturing themselves
with nerves.
flutters above the wrinkles
ringing her eyes.
A feminine embarrassment,
At odds with
the story of the cracks and twists of these strong limbs.
So thin, yet knotted to tell a saga
of work without end.
Gently, I try, to push away
the smallest sections of her clothing,
that allows me to still examine effectively.
She mumbles her humiliation
but the pain overcomes
socialized reaction.
Small bulge of her stomach undulates unnaturally
under the prominent ridges of the ribcage.
Decades have been etched into this

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Sunset Town_Ecuador

Jambi Huasi
by | February 13, 2012

February marks my sixth month in Ecuador, and I still haven’t posted something about my work. I guess that’s been a little difficult to describe because I’ve bumped around doing three different things. But here’s one of them:
Main apprenticeship: Jambi Huasi: Intercultural Health Center (October – April). I work Monday-Thursday: working at the receptionist desk, translating documents into English, taking vitals like blood pressure, working on promotional activities in the streets in Otavalo, and helping them design a website.
Jambi Huasi… is a grass-roots health center that provides ancestral and modern medicine to the indigenous population of Otavalo. It has

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So Many Peanuts!
by | January 13, 2012

If you give way to the mind’s stream of flowing consciousness, then you’ll surf through to the waters of enlightenment.
I really love to write because writing is in many ways and for many reasons, a great form of expression. So on this day I sat with my laptop while snacking on some peanuts and wondered,  ”What will my next blog post be about? Man Sam, this breeze feels so nice,” one peanut fell down into the sand beneath my feet. Not wanting to waste one grain of alimentation, I picked it up, brushed off the sand and ate it. Amazing…

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Powdered milk can’t save the world
by | December 16, 2011

Bilat is my three year old cousin. We’ve recently adopted him and his 5 year old sister into our family because his mother is mentally ill and left him to his father, who chose not to raise his two kids. The kids here play rough, and quite often fight rough. Bilat, being the youngest, is usually the victim of the kids lashing out in anger. Countless times I’ve seen him being pushed, hit, and beat upon. I break up the fights as soon as I can, but it almost appears that I’m not needed.
Just the other day, my younger…

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The Eighth Daughter, Graphic

The Eighth Daughter
by | December 12, 2011

She lies flat as a board
and is too skinny
Her eyes
The nurse has no words for them
Buen expresivos, she settles on.
Wide and bright
They look as though
They seek to be separate
from her too-small face,
Where her cheeks have sunken in,
Already at age 7.
And her lips are purple,
Bruised with worry.
I probe gently, to examine her stomach,
Which is jumping weakly
Beneath her ribcage.
There are rises and drops
In the arrangement of bones, beneath the dark skin that looks ready to tear,
Stretched too thin to cover this small female…

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We Heart Reproductive Rights!
by | December 11, 2011

How does one talk about family planning and reproductive rights in a country where it’s taboo to acknowledge that a woman is pregnant?
Loudly and enthusiastically, as it turns out, with lots of important people for an audience and plenty of media coverage to help spread the word. This uncharacteristic openness was but one of the surprises I encountered while volunteering at the 2011 International Conference on Family Planning in Dakar from November 28th to December 2nd. A product of collaboration between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, this conference,…

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The Next Step
by | December 8, 2011

“What is that prescription for?” I ask the nurse at the local health post as she scribbled on her notepad.
“Hypertension,” she replies.
“Is that a common problem here?” In response, she pushed the record book across her desk and pointed to the “diagnosis” column. Common would be an understatement. Surveying the column, I estimated that hypertension accounted for roughly a third of the diagnoses of patients 55 and over. “Why is hypertension so common?” I later asked another nurse.
“Diet?” he offered tentatively, with a small shrug. I found it troubling that the nurses were not sure of the…

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