Dr. Wallace, I hear that you recently went to Ethiopia on a medical mission trip. What on earth does a dermatologist do in a third world country like Africa?
- Posted on: Feb 6 2019
Great question, and the answer is surprisingly nothing spectacular or especially heroic.
The amazing thing is that people in places like Ethiopia are just like us. They have families to feed, work to be done, and children to take care of. The only problem is that they live in places without the blessings of clean, running water and doctors that can prescribe medicine for them. Most of the ailments I treat when I am places like Africa are nothing exotic or mind blowing, but rather simple conditions that we could prevent in the United States with Dove soap and a good cortisone cream.
They almost all suffer from terrible itching because of the dry, dusty air and walking barefoot for miles every day in the sun. And for any of you that have ever suffered from a bad case of poison ivy or eczema you know that itching can drive you crazy! So for probably half of the people, I saw a simple gift of a good bar of soap, moisturizing cream, cortisone cream, and Benadryl literally changed their life and gave them relief for the first time in years.
Serving in Africa really taught me that sometimes it is simply the gift of our time and resources, no matter how small they may seem, that can be the biggest blessings to other people. Just a willingness to turn to your neighbor whether down the street or on the other side of the world and offer them a helping hand in love can make someone’s entire day, maybe their year.
One of my lasting memories of Ethiopia was a little girl in a field surrounded by her friends and family. She had fallen down and scraped her hand so that she had a small cut on her finger. I happened to be standing around when it occurred so I pulled out some antibiotic cream and a bandaid from my backpack. I drew a smiley face on the bandaid, placed it on her finger and kissed her hand. A crowd had arisen around us as they watched with interest and amazement at this simple act of kindness. Well, that little girl turned and gave me the biggest hug and the brightest smile because she knew she had been loved!! And in return she gave me that same gift and a beautiful memory that I will always treasure.
If you have any interest in supporting a worthy cause in Ethiopia that we worked alongside here is the website for more information. www.embracinghopeethiopia.com
Photos taken by Kristin Laughlin