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)


Life is a grand adventure!

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

Grace Garey

Grace Garey

Cofounder at Watsi