Far From Ordinary: Guest post from Kenya

This is a guest post by Sarah Mwangi, the Kenyan coordinator at one of our Medical Partners, African Mission Healthcare Foundation. Sarah is responsible for identifying patients and walking them through the Watsi process. She’s made it possible for more than 100 people in Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia to access medical care funded by Watsi donors.
 
Every day I get the opportunity to experience firsthand what Watsi is really doing. I see it when chronic wounds heal. I hear it in the words of grateful parents. I feel it in the tears of mothers who are extremely overwhelmed.
 
It’s Monday morning. I pick up the telephone to make one of my usual routine calls in Kiswahili. 
  
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“Hello, Beatrice? My name is Sarah and I’m calling you from Kijabe Hospital. I am calling to let you know that your mother, Esther, will be discharged tomorrow. I also wanted to ask if you could come early so that I can make sure you are cleared by the accounts office without being asked for money.” 
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Silence. 

“Hello, Beatrice, are you there?”

In her local dialect, Beatrice starts to cry out.

“Beatrice, is everything okay? Your mother’s surgery went well. There is no need to be upset.”

Finally, she speaks.

“I’m sorry Sarah. I just can’t believe it. Are you saying that when I come to hospital tomorrow, I will not have to pay a single cent towards the cost of this surgery?”

“Yes. You just need to ensure that you call me when you get here so that I can take you through the process.”

She cries out again.

“Sarah, I am in total disbelief. I have dreamed about this day for ages but we have been at such a bad place for such a long time. Dreams are the only thing my family and I can afford. What can I ever do to repay you?”

“I am just the messenger! I will pass on your gratitude to those who have helped you.”

“Please make sure you do. Make sure you tell them that we are overwhelmed; that we are extremely grateful and that we can only pray for heaps of blessings upon them.”

“I will, Beatrice. See you tomorrow then. Goodbye.”

“Goodbye, Sarah. Thank you.”

I sit at my desk and go over the conversation in my mind. Instantly, I’m aware that my ‘routine’ phone calls, in reality, are far from routine.

Watsi is changing lives.

Happy Arbitrary Day!

In honor of the best made-up holiday in existence, Redditors have collectively funded 21 medical treatments on Watsi. 

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But they didn’t stop at funding life-changing medical care. Check out the awesome gifts they’re sending each other.

What could be better than a day dedicated to sending strangers gifts for no other reason than it makes everyone happy?

We won the White House Champions of Change Award!

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Obama couldn’t make it to the ceremony, but that didn’t keep our advisor, Eric Wu (featured left above), from photoshopping him into the photo.

We accepted this award on your behalf. In nine short months, you and the rest of our founding donors have built Watsi into a movement that’s funded medical care for more than 400 people.

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Learn more about the award, read our blog post on the White House website, and watch the video of our Champions of Change panel discussion. If Obama had been there, we’re sure he would have said one thing: “This is only the beginning.”

Keep on spreading the health!

We’re teaming up with Reddit to fund medical treatments this Arbitrary Day!

Starting today, Redditors from around the world are funding life-changing medical treatments in honor of Arbitrary Day.

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Arbitrary Day is Reddit Gifts made-up holiday. Arbitrary Day has one mission: to match strangers in an online gift exchange for no other reason than to make everybody happy.

Watsi <3s Reddit, and we were honored when the founders of Reddit Gifts said they wanted to put the power of the Internet behind a good cause and make an even bigger impact this Arbitrary Day.

Let’s see what these Redditors can do!

Our friends at Trovebox are dedicating 33% to health

Trovebox enables you to keep all your photos in one place, beautifully ordered and preserved. Now, Trovebox is teaming up with Watsi to expand global access to healthcare. 

We’re thrilled to announce that as of this week, 33% of all Trovebox Pro accounts will fund medical treatments for people around the world.

Store your photos and spread the health right now by signing up for Trovebox!

Karmabox launches Watsi widget

Many of you have asked for this, and it’s finally here!

With Karmabox, anyone can embed a widget on their website to help fund medical treatments for people in need.

Get the Watsi widget.

We are blown away by people who donate their time and talents to create awesome things for Watsi. Thank you to our friends Manuel and Jenny for making this happen!

Add the Watsi widget to your website at karmabox.io

Volunteer Spotlight: Johanna, moonlighting for a cause!

What made you want to volunteer with Watsi?

Writing all of the things that I find compelling about Watsi would take up far too much space! So instead, I feel like an anecdote might sum it up better.

Not-so-far-back in the day, I studied abroad in Kenya and worked with a small organization dedicated to children with spina bifida and hydrocephalus. I spent a lot of time talking to medical providers, educators, and mothers and fathers of children with these disorders. As you may expect, early, cost effective intervention for these children is incredibly important and can completely alter the course of a child’s life. As I read about Watsi for the first time, I thought of the families and children that I know so well, and how relatively inexpensive treatment is for these life-altering disorders. Obviously, so many other disorders are like hydrocephalus and spina bifida in the enormous impact of cost-effective treatment. Watsi makes total sense in placing emphasis on effectiveness of treatment, and, to top it off, is transparent! I immediately wanted to be a part of it! Working with or donating to Watsi makes a tangible difference in the lives of people. That’s really what drew me to offer up my assistance to Watsi.

Where do you help us from?

I live in NYC and usually write profiles on my old laptop, cuddled up in bed with my dog. I work as a nurse for homeless adolescents and I’m in school full time to become a Family Nurse Practitioner, so profiles usually have to wait until after work, school, or clinical. Fortunately, writing at night puts my East Coast schedule on a similar time zone to Grace, out on the opposite side of the country!

What do you like about volunteering with Watsi?

I am obsessed with how “small world” Watsi is. First and foremost, people from (literally!) around the globe come together for one common cause. It is amazing to think about where donors and recipients live, and how distance and cultural differences can be completely transcended by both the internet and human generosity. In a less abstract sense, one of my friends from study abroad is now working with a Watsi medical partner halfway across the world - I saw her name on a raw-data profile and almost fell out of my chair with surprise!

Any particular patient stories that stand out in your mind? 

I wrote a profile for an older man named Baba who has been dealing with an incredibly common disorder called BPH (an enlarged prostate). Many of my patients here in New York have BPH, but it does not prevent them from living their lives. For Baba, his lifestyle was completely destroyed by this issue that is normally a relatively mild irritation in the US. In spite of all of this, his spirit and sense of humor completely shone through in his pictures and raw information from his providers. He seemed like someone that I had known forever. I was so inspired by his positive attitude that I donated to his treatment. I can’t wait to see the glee in his eyes when he no longer has to experience the stigma and pain of his current situation and can get back to his life. How awesome is that concept!?

Favorite quote or words to live by?

The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world. (Paul Farmer)

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Life is a grand adventure!

Do you have skills you want to lend to Watsi? Drop us a line at connect@watsi.org!

"It’s been really exciting for us to help amputees with the help of Watsi donors."

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Guest post by Dr. Peter Rohloff

Providing prosthetic limbs is a really straight forward, extraordinarily high impact thing. However, we would never have been able to do it without Watsi’s help, because the funds to purchase the prosthetics are just not in our budget.

The reasons for amputation and need for a prosthetic limb vary. 

Some are born without the arm - a congenital defect, and they grow up without ever having use of the limb. Pedro and Maria, for example, were both born without arms.

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Others are the victims of gang violence - their arms shot off or blown off, mostly innocent bystanders. Eliazar sustained serious injuries when a gang threw a grenade into his home.

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Still others lose their limbs while performing their jobs - electrical workers damaged by high voltage lines; farmers damaged by agricultural machinery. Mario lost his arm after an accident with a high voltage electricity line.

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We help them all.

By far the most amazing cases are the ones who are born without limbs. They surprise me every time by how intuitively and quickly they are using the arm, despite never having had an arm there to use before!

Last week I had the opportunity to help Pedro and Maria, two of the patients with congenital missing limbs. Check out the “action shots” of them using their new limbs below!

 
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Peter Rohloff directs medical programs at Wuqu’ Kawoq, a Watsi Medical Partner in Guatemala. Peter is a physician in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. 

Grumo Media makes the most awesome little explainer videos ever, and they made this video for Watsi for free!

Grumo’s founder emailed us out of the blue last night with the video, adding simply, “keep up the good work!”

People are awesome.

You can check out more of Grumo’s work here

In the days after Watsi was featured in The New York Times, donors collectively funded more than $45,000 in medical care for 50 patients.

That’s more than our first three months combined!

Be part of the story —> http://bit.ly/ZsIuqh