I try to start the morning by writing in my lovely, little
"Hello Beautiful Day" notebook. Just a few words, hand-written,
expressing gratitude. It's usually a simple practice, likely made
easier by the fact that I bounce awake easily in the morning.
This morning, though, I woke up with an unusually heavy heart.
Albeit some of this was the result of 36 hours of air travel, a
7-hour difference in time zones, and long delays at the airport
yesterday that didn't put me into my own bed in western Kenya until
late at night.
Weighing heaviest of all were the terrible news and footage from
a Kenyan coastal town called Mpeketoni, where at least 50 people
and likely more were killed by a violent group of some stripe. Most
of the people were watching the World Cup matches, like I had been,
like most of Kenya wants to be doing in the evening here.
Also very heavy is the knowledge of the terrible, unjust, and
inhumane government reaction to the unrest over these past months,
in which they have detained thousands of Somali residents of Kenya,
including many women and children, in terrible conditions.
Even the US soccer team's delightful and gritty win over Ghana
could not fully lift my spirits. The US Embassy was flooding my
inbox with warnings about travel in Kenya that drowned out my
triumphant soccer updates.
The violence continues, the harsh but ineffective reaction
continues, and this beautiful country suffers under the weight. And
there is fear too, the unsettled worry just under the surface of
adults' thoughts. As I sat in the airport in Nairobi, trying to
enjoy a beer and soccer while our plane was unable to leave due to
the coastal unrest, it was all too fresh in my mind that the only
other restaurant in the airport had been destroyed in another
recent explosion. The airport felt like a dangerous place.
A heavy heart. And yet…
Here I am in western Kenya, where I have the privilege to work
with one of sub-Saharan Africa's largest and most innovative HIV
care programs. I have 14,000 children at 25 clinics who are alive
and thriving and growing towards adulthood because of the medicines
and care system we are able to provide. I have new team members
ready to tackle some of the many projects I keep dreaming up. And I
get to be a pediatrician for these thousands of beautiful, precious
My children here live in a world of poverty, of injustice, of
brokenness. My children live in a world of risk and uncertainty,
where too many lives are ended far too early. My children live in
this world that makes my heart heavy and worried.
And it is my privilege to be here with them. To start this day,
to start tomorrow, to start what I hope will be hundreds of
tomorrows - all with the thought of what we can do to keep these
children alive and thriving.
Hello, Beautiful Day.
It is a beautiful
Just to be
On this fresh
In this broken