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On listening

Posted on Feb 12, 2018 by in Uncategorized | 1 comment

I had a great talk with Arianna the other day the other day about my New Year’s resolution (yes, it took me until February to decide on one, don’t judge).

Rather than do the right thing or the safe thing or the scary thing, what if I just do something, anything, and then listen. Create and then listen. Share and then listen.  Not just listening to the words, but to body language, context – the emotions and needs behind the words. Why is this person saying what they are saying, doing what they are doing?  Why are they not saying something?

Listening is scary and can be overwhelming, especially for someone like me who wants to fix things.  When I hear, I feel like I am owning the problem, like I’m filling up a backpack with rocks. . .how am I supposed to carry this?

However, to be truly seen, heard, and accepted is a powerful and rare gift.  Maybe I don’t have to repair everything – maybe to hear and truly acknowledge is gift enough in itself.

Stories. . . Arianna is not only a doctor, but a teacher.  Assistant director of medical education officially, but unofficially, constantly giving talks and lectures to her interns, advice from our porch or couch, bedside teaching and protocol development.

We know there are huge needs in Africa, that’s why we are here.  But it is really hard to get our minds around the scale, partly because the needs are so big, and partly because very few people have been studying and writing about it.

This week I was working on videos of anesthesia trainees, and they spoke of a triangle of need – for surgery, anesthesia, and critical care across the continent.  As they spoke, the larger purpose dawned on me.  We must do these three things together, and Kijabe is one of a handful of facilities on the continent equipped to train doctors in all three.  Possibly the only one when it comes to pediatrics.

Arianna is part of the first Pediatric Emergency and Critical Care residency training program in Kenya – set to start in the coming months – it’s exciting and daunting – and will leave a huge impact.

Here’s some of the people at the other corners of the triangle in a series of portraits I recently made.

Dr. Stella, currently in Peds Anesthesia training with University of Nairobi/Kijabe – she will be the only trained pediatric anesthetist in Malawi.

The PEM/CC fellowship will follow the partnership structure set up with pediatric anesthesia training.

Dr. Sam Fabiano, Pediatric Surgeon from Angola.

Dr. Natalie, also in Pediatric Anesthesia training, will be the only pediatric anesthetist in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country with a population of 49 million people – the same size as California.  Imagine.

David Jomo – one of our best interns of past years – he is now in Orthopedic residency at Kijabe.

Dr. Alan Kochi, peds anesthetist who I spent some time with in operating theatre on his rotations to Kijabe.  He was one of the first trainees involved with the UofN partnership, and was back for training at the Kijabe simulation center.


1 Comment

  1. God is listening and answering our prayers for these enormous needs. Thank you for being part of His answer!

    Love, Phyllis

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