I Vote.

IVote ICount _2012

Voting makes me sappy. Unabashedly so. Dripping with thankfulness and pride.

Waiting in a line for early voting that stretched around the Indianapolis City-County Building in chilly winds, I was swamped with gratitude. What a privilege we have - we can cast our votes with the confidence that they will be counted fairly and that the electoral process will proceed without violence and corruption.

In 2008, I surveyed line after line of white tents, housing thousands of displaced families in the aftermath of controversial presidential elections in Kenya that led to violence along ethnic and political lines. Thousands were dead or forced from their homes, fearing for their own safety. I saw endless lines of patients in a tent clinic in that camp, offering what few medicines we had and what care we could patch together. I did a study showing how the violence after the election disrupted care for thousands of children with HIV.

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The camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) in Eldoret, Kenya.

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The little clinic AMPATH set up in the IDP camp - where I saw long lines of patients.

I will never forget the dehydrated baby who stopped breathing in my arms in the tent clinic in the camp. Diarrhea and disease spread quickly in the conditions in which refugees and displaced persons find themselves. I gave the baby rescue breaths all the way to the hospital - an endlessly long trip that day. Kenya will hold presidential elections again in March of 2013, and we are already making contingency plans for what conflict might unfold.

I am grateful that, no matter what happens in our elections on Tuesday, we can assume that it will be safe for families to remain in their homes, that children will not face deprivation and disease. I am grateful for every way in which our electoral process is peaceful and fair and just.

Seeing two elderly African-American ladies being ushered respectfully through the lines today in Indianapolis, I had tears in my eyes. Hearing a first-time voter ring the bell as he submitted a ballot made my heart warm.

I am so grateful for all of those who stood up, who demonstrated, who fought, who died - so that people of color could vote, so that women could vote, so that we can live in a peaceful and safe country where we have this beautiful privilege. Thank you, all of you on whose shoulders we stand in this voting line.

Please vote.

Posted at 15:29

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