Category Archives: International health issues and humanitarian efforts

Sharing book reviews from Net Galley

Net Galley helps readers of influence discover and recommend new books to their audiences. If you are a librarian, bookseller, educator, reviewer, blogger or in the media, you can join for free.

I enjoy reading and sharing what I read with my blog followers, so joining Net Galley helps me accomplish both. I try to find books with a health/medical theme although occasionally I will pick something just for fun. But I find that almost any story portrays some  health related issues since it’s a universal concern.

SHARING HEALTH BOOK REVIEWS FROM NET GALEY

Here are two stories, both memoirs, but vastly different. One is a private personal story, the other a public  personal story.

The Best of Us

A Memoir

by Joyce Maynard

Ms. Maynard’s story opened with a  failed marriage/bad divorce saga with adult children torn between the two parents, persistent anger and bitterness, and attempts to ease the pain with a series of bad choices in lovers. Equally sad was her telling of a complicated  and ultimately failed adoption attempt.

Finally she and we can breath a sigh of relief when she meets a man and seems to have found true love at last. But that comes to an abrupt halt when he is diagnosed with cancer.

From then on she poignantly describes a life turned upside down as she enters new territory as a caregiver. As she relates how their lives changed, we the readers are changed also, learning to recognize what is truly important in life. As Ms. Maynard  writes,

“success, money, beauty, passion, adventure, possessions- have become immaterial. Breathing would be enough.”

Read this book if you want your assumptions about life and death to be challenged and changed. You may read an excerpt at this link

The Best of Us-Chapter 1

Tears of Salt

A Doctor’s Story

by Pietro Bartolo; Lidia Tilotta

Dr. Pietro Bartolo practices medicine on the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa, in the Mediterranean Sea. Lampedusa, known for its friendly people, sunny skies, pristine beaches, and turquoise waters famous for fishing, seems an idyllic place to live, work, and visit.

But for the past 20 years, Dr.Bartolo has cared for not just residents and tourists, but for hundreds of refugees- people who risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean from northern Africa, fleeing poverty and political unrest. The lucky ones land on shore injured and sick. The unlucky ones wash ashore dead, having died en route or drowning after falling from a capsized or wrecked boat, sometimes only a few feet from shore.

In this memoir, Dr. Bartolo shares the stories of many of these people, giving them the names and faces that we don’t see watching news stories about the refugee crisis. He also shares his own life story of growing up on the island, leaving for medical school, and returning to raise a family and to practice medicine.

Dr. Bartolo’s story was also told in the documentary film FIRE AT SEA

 

 

He never expected to become the front-line help for hundreds of desperate people. With no specific training on how to manage an avalanche of desperate, sick, and injured refugees, and with little resources, he manages to put together a system for triaging, evaluating, and treating these people, then sending them on for more advanced medical care or to immigration centers in Europe.

For the less fortunate, he serves as medical examiner, to determine the cause of death for those who do not make it to Lampedusa alive; sometimes taking body parts to extract DNA to identify them, so families can be notified. He states he has never grown comfortable to this aspect of his job.

As a physician myself, I marvel at Dr. Bartolo’s caring and commitment to people who will never be able to repay him for his sacrifice. He approaches his work as a mission of mercy, and treats every person with the utmost respect, no matter their circumstance. Some of the people he treats become almost like family; he has even tried to adopt a couple of orphaned children but cannot due to legalities.

Dr. Bartolo’s story reads like a conversation. I think you will like him, and admire him for his dedication and selfless service.  His life should encourage all of us to consider what we can each do to lessen someone else’s suffering.

 

 

Another book review from Net Galley is at this link-

COURAGE for the UNKNOWN SEASON- a review

 

I also review books for Tyndale Blog Network.  for whom I reviewed FIRE ROAD,   also on Net Galley. Here is the link to that review-

Love conquers fear-a memoir of hope

I received a free digital copy of these books (FIRE ROAD was a paper copy) in return for posting a frank review on my blog and/or social media.

 

 

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A Shining Spirit- Kayla Mueller

 

Soon after I started this blog a news story caught my attention and my heart.

A young woman volunteer, Kayla Jean Mueller, was abducted following a visit to a hospital operated by the medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Aleppo, Syria.

She was held in captivity by the Islamic State for 18 horrific months with three other American hostages.  Kayla died on February 6, 2015, reportedly following the bombing of a location where she was being held captive.

God hasn't called me to be successful, but to be faithful. quote Mother Teresa

 

 

After reading  and watching the news reports about the life-and death- of Kayla, I wrote this.

 

I cannot think of anything else worth saying today other than to express my sadness  for and sympathy to the family of Kayla Mueller. On  the evening news last night I heard Kayla’s aunt describe her as “noble beyond her years.”

I had never heard of Kayla until a few days ago, but her story touches my heart. I have a son about the same age; and like her, his work and passions take him all over the world. I cannot imagine getting an email like the one her parents received confirming her death.

At only 26 years old, Kayla had already traveled to India, Israel, Palestine and Syria on humanitarian endeavors and in Arizona worked at a women’s shelter and with AIDS patients.

In a letter  to her family from captivity, she expressed regret that she was causing them pain. I hope the memory of this beautiful young woman brings some comfort to their grieving hearts.

 

 

 

Recently while reviewing my older posts, I wondered what happened to Kayla’s family after her death; perhaps someone had written about her, or established a memorial of some sort.

I am pleased to see that Kayla was not  forgotten, and her work was not in vain. I want to let you know what has happened since her capture and murder in 2015.

A Shining Spirit-Kayla Mueller-watercresswords.com

 

 

FOR KAYLA 

 

FOR KAYLA is a website devoted to  her  humanitarian projects, including quotes from her blog and the touching letter she wrote to her family from captivity.

Her are just a few of the quotes from her blog and letter.

This really is my life’s work, to go where there is suffering. I suppose, like us all, I’m learning how to deal with the suffering of the world inside myself… to deal with my own pain and most importantly to still have the ability to be proactive.

 

Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny. C.S. LEWIS

 

 

 

 

The gardener knows how to turn garbage into compost. Therefore our anger, sadness, and fear is the best compost for our compassion.

 

merciful God, release us from the time of trial that we may witness grief becoming joy and life rising from death. amen

 

 

I have been shown in darkness, light and have learned that even in prison, one can be free.

 

True liberation is freeing people from bonds that prevent them from giving their gifts to others.

 

 

 

 

 

There are links to many news reports about Kayla which you may have seen,  including this moving video by CBS News anchor Scott Pelley

A Reflection on Kayla Muella’s Shining Spirit

angel statue in a cemetery
photo source- Lightstock.com , an affiliate link

Kayla’s Hands

 

Kayla’s family did indeed establish a foundation in Kayla’s name, which they called Kayla’s Hands  a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation “to further her humanitarian efforts both locally and internationally.” On the website they write this about their daughter-

Kayla devoted her life to helping others. Kayla’s heart was for the innocent children thrown into a life they should never be in; for moms trying to raise them alone and for families that needed help to stay as one; and for the soldiers, reporters and humanitarian workers who have seen such horror as well.

She wanted to help heal wounded hearts, minds and bodies bringing happiness and joy to all she could. It was this commitment that drove her to help victims in shelters near our home in Prescott, Arizona and to leave home for far away places she felt called to help.

She spent her life working for those who needed it most, using her voice to amplify those of others, and standing in solidarity with people as they struggle for their own rights and dignity. Even in captivity, she gave comfort to the Yazidi girls held with her and others suffering around her. If there was work to be done in service to others, she did it.

 

you cannot love without giving. Amy Carmichael

 

 

On the second anniversary of Kayla’s death, her family dissolved the foundation and donated $120,000 to Doctors Without Borders (MSF) an organization Kayla believed in and had worked with.

The foundation also donated funds to

  • Iraqi Bridge/Dr. Mirza , for  work on behalf of the Yazidi victims of genocide,
  • Save the Children , for  work to save the Syrian children and children throughout the world,
  • Syrian American Medical Society/SAMS who continue to work on behalf of Syria’s war victims,
  • Folds of Honor to provide educational scholarships to the families of America’s fallen and disabled service members
  •  Kiwanis Club of Prescott  Arizona who faithfully work “for the kids”.

 

Kayla Mueller Memorial Endowment Fund

Doctors Without Borders used the donation to establish an endowment fund in her memory. From their website-

“The endowment will be used to support medical and humanitarian aid programs operating in nearly 70 countries and providing care to more than 8 million people every year affected by armed conflicts, epidemics, as well as natural and man-made disasters.”

“By donating to Doctors Without Borders” noted her parents Marsha and Carl, “we can ensure Kayla’s spirit and her legacy of healing is continued in the world.”

 

Doctors Without Borders map of activities
map showing sites where Doctors Without Borders works, from a recent mailing

 

Your turn to explore

I invite you to browse the links above to learn more about these organizations and the work they do to bring the HEART of health to people around the world, work that I and this blog consider much needed and worthy of support.

(This blog is not compensated for listing this organizations here.)

 

 

 

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Thank you for exploring the HEART of health with me, please share and follow Watercress Words.

Dr. Aletha