Strada: “In Africa only Emergency provides quality cardiac surgery for free. Civilized countries don’t lift a finger”
Fund raising in Brussels to buy cardiac valves to send to the hospital in Sudan.
Erri De Luca: “There blood doesn’t scream; it’s thankful. It saves lives that were about to be thrown out”
For Erri De Luca what remains above all is “the smell of blood.” From that visit to the hospital in Khartoum in Sudan, this is what first comes to mind: the moment in which Gino Strada insisted he enter the operating room with him to watch an open heart surgery and he smelled it for the first time. An “age-old and unknown” smell, accounts the writer in his style, “the same smell from 1900, the century in which the largest amount of human blood was lost.” But in Khartoum, continues De Luca, “the blood didn’t scream: it smiled and was thankful because a restitution occurred –lives that were about to be thrown out.”
18,000 people’s lives are at risk of being thrown out, mostly children, who in Africa continue to suffer cardiac disease. The main cause of the pathology is lack of preventative care which would stop early symptoms of rheumatic fever. So the only chance of saving becomes substituting the cardiac valve with surgery. But these valves cost and until recently hospitals capable of this type of operation didn’t exist in Africa.
Emergency took care of the hospital and opened the center “Salam” in 2007; it is still the only hospital on the continent to offer high-quality cardiac surgery for free and because of this in the last few years has become the destination for patients of more than 23 different countries. As far as the artificial valves go however, we must provide them. This is required of Prima Persona, a political and cultural association headed by the VP of the European Parliament, Gianni Pittella, who decided to launch a fundraiser to purchase and send the valves to the Salam hospital.
“We have already collected some but we will proceed with the campaign” requested Pittella, presenting the initiative to the European Parliament today. “Every 2-3 thousand Euro we can buy a valve and every valve is a life” he reminds us. In Khartoum the Euro MP went in person. “The reality we saw is beyond any stretch of the imagination – he accounts – 300,000 people live there in tents made with mud in the midst of excrements, trash and animals with a temperature that exceeds 50-60 degrees. They are aided by only one cardio surgery hospital in all of Africa.” Up against this “we cannot be silent.” For this, Pittella adds, Gino Strada and his team’s work is important; “not only does it save human lives but it also bears witness to the reality that others don’t want or pretend not to see.”
The founder of Emergency is in Sudan actually working at the Salam center but is able to participate in the conference via telephone. “This center is a little jewel – he says – because it is a way to show how things work in Africa with excellent results and with even fewer resources than one would think necessary.” In other words, the model is established; “whoever wants can follow it,” invites Strada, confessing: “I find it scandalous and unacceptable that
civilized countries accept that only one hospital exists in Africa where one can obtain this type of care.” “10 must come to light- Strada insists.” A plea addressed in a strong and clear method in spite of being via telephone from a distance, “for Europe Nobel for Peace.”
Thank you Randy for this beautiful post, and…thank you Santina!
Following a successful climb on Mt. Kilimanjaro, Davies slipped off Table Mountain in Capetown, South Africa, which she hiked only to take in the view. She fell 125 feet and had to be airlifted to a hospital. When she awoke 15 hours and multiple surgeries later, she was told she would never walk again.
Last week, she walked slowly and tentatively in high heels, but on her own, to the stage at the Port Theater in Corona del Mar, where she shared her story to Friendship Shelter residents and supporters on behalf of the organization’s 25th anniversary. Her appearance is a natural book-end to her first public appearance two years after the accident at the agency’s annual gala, where she received an honorary award for her spirit and tenacity.
“I still have challenges and pain,” she told a rapt crowd, “but I learned that working hard every day I need to build on each small success.”
Her message must have resonated with homeless individuals who have only small steps to take and must take each small step before they can rehabilitate their own lives. She shared the stage that night with her friend and Friendship Shelter supporter Paola Porrini-Bisson, who recently produced her first film about mountain climbers, which won the Tribeca Film Festival’s award for best short film, and Jim Doti, president of Chapman University, an avid mountain climber. Climbing mountains is an apt metaphor for homeless people trying to rebuild lives.
Davies has devoted most of her days, every day for six years to physical therapy. The task was Herculean. She had disconnected both wrists, punctured a lung, and fractured her back and spinal chord. But, she said, the moment the doctors said she would not walk again, she was determined to do just that.
Determination comes naturally to Davies. The youngest of nine children, she migrated from Italy to the U.S. at age 13 and was the first to learn to speak English, so she became the family spokesperson for her first five years here. She is a strong-minded woman who has traveled extensively and enjoyed the good life with her husband in Laguna Beach. Thus, when she became suddenly dependent on others, she wanted more than anything to do something for herself. Any small thing, she said.
“At times I wanted to give up, but something inside of me wanted to try again, and try harder. I started choosing to believe that if I can do one thing, I can do more.”
The one thing Davies always had was hope. Hope, and a dedicated support system of family and friends. This is often exactly what homeless people do not have, so a person like Davies, who has been a generous supporter, reminds them that they can do whatever they set their mind to. She also advised them to listen to their counselors.
“Only worry about what you can do today,” Davies said in conclusion, words she will likely be whispering to herself these days. She confided to the group that she has just been diagnosed with cancer. Knowing Davies, she will wage that battle with the same determination and hope. We are all rooting for her.
Randy Kraft is a freelance writer who previously covered the city for the Indy and pens the OC BookBlog for www.ocinsite.com. Minding our Business focuses on locally owned businesses and business people.
It has been that time of the year again, when Jewish people around the world solemnly commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. I’m lucky to work with a writer that is very much-loved in Israel, and more lucky to have had a chance to be in this country for the Day of Memory…I meet new and old friends, and I shared emotions, feelings, with them. Trough the Memory, we can find the strength to combat any sort of antisemitism, for a better world…
2013 has arrived and with it, my yearly list of foods you may want to consider adding (or have more of) this year. All of them have been around for ages but — like clothing, music, and celebrities — certain foods come and go in terms of popularity. Here are 13 that may help you improve your health, assist your weight-loss efforts, or just give you the chance to give your taste buds something new!
If white rice is a staple in your diet, you’re missing out on a whole new rice world. Black rice has been around for thousands of years, but only now getting the attention it deserves. Evidence suggests that black rice may have more cancer-fighting antioxidants than blueberries or blackberries. It’s also loaded with fiber and B-vitamins.
Orange is in, and the orange in these tasty treats come from beta-carotene, a powerhouse carotenoid that converts to vitamin A in the body. A recent study found that low levels of beta-carotene are associated with dementia.
Soy has remained one of the most controversial foods of the past few years but, the truth is, it really shouldn’t be! That’s because the overwhelming amount of evidence for soy shows beneficial, as opposed to adverse, health effects. Soy may play a role in lowering blood pressure, early intake of soy in life appears to play a protective role against breast cancer, and some studies now indicate that consistent soy intake may actually help to decrease the decorrence of breast cancer among certain patient populations. They key, however,in attaining these benefits is to focus on whole soy foods such as miso, tempeh, tofu and soybeans. That means your soy chips and that soy energy bar may not cut it!
If you think all potatoes are the downfall to your weight-loss plans, think again! A recent study in theJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that eating a moderate serving of purples potatoes twice a day helped to lower blood pressure in obese individuals without causing weight gain. Additionally, the more color a fruit or vegetable has, the better it is for you. That’s because vibrant hues in whole foods are created by powerful phytochomeicals that help to reduce inflammation and overall disease risk.
Do you often find yourself looking for something crunchy and savory midway through the afternoon, but don’t want to have yet another fat-free snack that fails to fill you up? Tortilla chips may be just what you’re looking for! They are 100 percent whole grain and a good source of fiber, but perhaps the most impressive fact about this simple snack is that they are, in a word, simple! That means many tortilla chip options at the stores have only two or three ingredients, a far cry from some of the competitive chip offerings on the shelf that can contain more than 10 ingredients. If you are a dip-lover, pair it with salsa or hummus for extra nutrients without the aging fat that other dips (think French onion, cheese, etc.) tend to supply.
Looking for a condiment that will give kick to your food while kicking cancer risk as well? Then turn up the heat in 2013 by adding some horseradish to a sandwich or salad dressing. The horseradish plant is from the same family as cancer-fighting superstars broccoli, cabbage, kale and cauliflower. Two studies in 2012 found that horseradish contained high amounts of glucosinolate, a natural compound that has been found to be a powerful dietary ally in cancer prevention.
Move over blueberries, blackberries may have you beat! Blackberries have been found in one study to be higher in antioxidants than their blue counterparts. While both berries are fabulous in terms of fighting off disease, blackberries are often the understudy to blueberries. This year, why not make them center stage? Their anti-inflammatory effects not only may help to prevent cancer, but may do wonders for your skin, as well!
So many fabulous nutrients stored in such a small little bean. This plant-based source of protein is high in fiber and iron — giving new meaning to the term “nutrient density,” and making it a dream food staple for individuals hoping to shed a few pounds!
Bran — it’s not just for the constipated! Brans of any kind (corn, rice, wheat and oat) are loaded with fiber(about 12 grams per serving) and if you thought fiber was only good for cleaning out the digestive pipes, you’re missing out on a lot more benefits! Studies have shown that fiber may help to reduce the progression of prostate cancer in mice, promote gastrointestinal health, and reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke by helping in the fight toward lower cholesterol. Mix bran into muffins, yogurt, or even soups to get a fiber boost!
With new and exciting super fruits being introduced to the market, sometimes it’s easy to forget that some simple fruit staples are still some of the best. Pears are high in fiber and vitamin C and may be a perfect snack if your New Year’s resolution is to reduce your risk of cancer. A study in 2009 found that pears may help reduce the incidence of gastric cancer by decreasing bile acids in the intestinal tract.
Onions are not only a great way to add taste to your meals, but may also help to reduce your risk of stroke as well. A 2012 animal study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that a flavonoid known as rutin (found in fruits, vegetables and teas) helped to reduce the formation of blood clots.
Love Indian food but don’t love the fact that you typically eat three pieces of white flour naan at your favorite restaurants? Next time choose a better and healthier Indian bread — roti. Found at all Indian restaurants, roti provides something that’s hard to find when you’re dining out: a 100 percent whole-grain bread option. Enjoy roti over the white rice to soak up those delicious Indian sauces. You’ll get lots of health benefits and may avoid the after-meal bloat, as well!
A few sprinkles of black pepper not only adds great flavor to your foods — it may also help to block fat! A 2012 study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that a compound in pepper, known as piperine, helped to block the formation of fat cells in the body. If you’re going to spice up your food, why not choose something that will help you keep weight down, as well!
Brigid Titgemeier contributed to this article
I find value in every form of life—snow, strawberries, a fly.
I find value in the mineral kingdom and the congress of stars.
I find value in wine while a meal lasts, an involuntary smile,
the fatigue that comes from not holding back,
and an old couple in love.
I find value in what tomorrow will be worth nothing,
and what today is still worth little.
I find value in every sort of wound.
I find value in conserving water, mending a pair of shoes,
holding your tongue, running toward a scream, asking before sitting down,
and feeling grateful without recalling why.
I find value inside a room knowing where north is,
and the name of the wind drying the laundry.
I find value in the rover’s travel, the nun’s retreat,
and the convict’s patience, whatever the crime.
I find value in using the verb “to love”
and in the presumption that a creator exists.
Many of these values I have not known.
Erri De Luca
Translated by Jim Hicks