“This is how we play football in the dirt”

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As it happens, I am in the midst of major transitions in all aspects of my life. Truly, in all. I will be back to writing more here at Doctor V Goes Over the Sea someday, but for now, I am in survival mode from one day to the next. I hope you will be patient with me.

Probably the least of these transitions is that I leave tomorrow for six weeks in multiple other countries. I am all in favor of appreciating whatever a particular place has to offer. So, in the midst of complete life craziness this week, I commemorate in no particular order these wonderful gifts that I have been savoring in the U S of A:

  • Tamales
  • Bathrooms with toilet seats and toilet paper
  • Sushi
  • Roads with pavement. And lanes. And drivers who give actual thought to not killing other people.
  • Blazing fast internet
  • Lettuce that is easy to obtain and to sanitize
  • Jazz
  • Friends and family who show up with love in the midst of hard and heavy stuff
  • Blueberries
  • Bureaucracy that actually yields a desired result in the end
  • Peanut M&Ms
  • Espresso shots
  • A lack of need for bribes

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Mamas and Babies

Art from the artists at the AMPATH Imani Workshop in Kenya…





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We can do this.

I know this story so well. We hear this in our clinics in Kenya every single day…

She was HIV-positive. “I thought now nothing in my life was going to be right, nothing that I have ever dreamed of would come true,” she said.

But she still wanted to start a family. A few months later, she was pregnant. She assumed the baby would be born HIV-positive and simply hoped her child would live a long, healthy life with medication.

There was a lot Tinzi didn’t know. HIV-positive women who don’t seek medical care have roughly a 40 percent chance of passing the virus on to their child. But with proper medical care — and a steady dose of anti-retroviral drugs — that number can essentially be reduced to zero. The problem is, treatment isn’t available in many parts of the world. And even if it is, women aren’t always aware of the option.

(From Goats and Soda)

She's a mother talking to another mother — and both are HIV-positive. That's the mentoring role played by Phelokazi Tinzi, who works for  mothers2mothers in South Africa.

We know how to prevent babies from being born with HIV. We can have an HIV-free generation. With support and education and access to medicines, women like Tinzi will only have tears of joy to shed over their HIV-negative babies.

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What I Might Say if I Could

Stephen Dunn

You’re a Hutu with a machete, a Serb with orders,

you’re one more body in a grave they made you dig.

Or, almost worse, you’re alive to tell the story,

the most silent man on earth.


Here, rhododendrons are blooming, and cicadas

are waking from their long sleep.

I need not tell you how fast a good country

can become a hateful, hated thing.


Born in the wrong place at the wrong time

to parents wronged by their parents

and ruled by some crazed utopian with a plan –

no ice-cream cone for you, no summer at the shore.


I know you can’t believe suffering leads to anything

but more suffering, or that wisdom waits

in some survivor’s room at the end of a hall.

What good to tell you that sometimes it does?


Sometimes has the future in it, and wisdom,

you must fear, is what victors think is theirs.

You can’t even be sure of a full bowl

of rice, and you’ve forgotten how to sing.


Clouds with periods of sun, says our weatherman.

Unlike some of us, he never intends to lie.

Many here who look no further than their yards

believe God has a design.




David Wagoner

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.




 Sheenagh Pugh

Sometimes things don’t go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don’t fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes step back from war;
elect an honest man; decide they care
enough, that they can’t leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen: may it happen to you

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