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June 22 , 2010

Mission to Heal

Sharing Medical Knowledge at Africa's Pole of Inaccessibility


Some might ask why Dr. Glenn Geelhoed has the right to make wrenching life-and-death decisions about the impoverished people he treats. Simply, where he travels, there is no one else to make them. This is especially true in the Central African Republic, where the so-called government provides no security and no infrastructure. Mission to Heal is the story of several weeks in the CAR teaching, healing, and learning.
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This is a tale of Western and indigenous caregivers operating side-by-side on the fringes of surgical civilization. Day by day, Glenn and his teams operate without electricity, with limited supplies, often with only local anesthesia. Their patients are stoic, and the supporting caregivers are resourceful and generous in the extreme.

Many believe that the Zande and Mbororo people in this region, very near the most remote point on the African continent, are beyond help. Yet Glenn tells a different story – sometimes tragic, but frequently funny and often hopeful. Despite the backdrop of marauding invaders, refugee camps, and a deep history of geopolitical instability, Glenn works with the local people to develop a sustainable healthcare program – work he has been doing around the world for more than forty years.

The feats of his caregiving teams and the indigenous communities in which they work reveal a crucial lesson for our time: humility, perseverance, and resilience can be effective weapons against some of the world's greatest problems.
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