Madaktari and “the ordinary instant.”

Thinking about Haiti and how, as Joan Didion wrote in The Year of Magical Thinking, “Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.”

Here are ways to help Haiti.

As horrific as the devastation is, it’s as overwhelmingly hopeful to watch the world mobilize support, which always begins with one person digging in and doing the work.


A while back Blue Ion asked me to help out with a pro-bono project for Madaktari. Madaktari is Swahili for “physician.” It’s also a medical training and healthcare program created by South Carolina neurosurgeon and MUSC Professor Dilantha Ellegala. The program is a true testament to one person digging in, and the beautiful momentum of support that follows. It’s about changing life “in the ordinary instant.”

I’m grateful to have had the chance to help tell the story. Many thanks to my friend and photographer Brennan Wesley who provided the incredible imagery, as well as Kathleen Ellis from MUSC who provided me with the program details, energy and spirit behind this inspiring work.

An excerpt of the copy I wrote for the website:

In Tanzania and other East Africa countries, there is a frightening lack of physicians – and other healthcare workers. Which means healthcare in Africa is in real trouble.

Tanzania has 5.2 healthcare workers for every 10,000 people.

That’s as scary as it sounds.

That’s the lowest number of physicians per persons in the world. And, the shortage of healthcare workers is getting worse. Currently, 25,000 healthcare workers are trying to serve a population of 40 million.

The problem doesn’t end there.

85% of Tanzanians live in rural areas with rugged roads and little to no transportation. So, a trip to a healthcare facility is difficult and often dangerous.

But where there is a challenge, there is also opportunity.

That’s where Madaktari begins.

Madaktari is medical training and education for the developing world. Physicians training physicians. Health care workers training health care workers. The Madaktari team helps local caregivers learn the techniques they need to care for their community. Those people, in turn, train others. Before long, you’ve got a local, sustainable, self-propagating system of care. Led by the people who live there.

Through in-country education led by volunteer physicians and health care workers, the creation of Madaktari-modeled teaching hospitals and in-country and global partnerships, Madaktari is empowering people to help themselves.

And when lots of people are empowered, things start happening.

Mortality rates drop.

Heath improves.

Life is better.

And it starts with one doctor, nurse, health care provider…and you.

Change healthcare. Improve life.
Photography by Brennan Wesley.

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