Being born in any of the underdeveloped countries of the world is so much of a burden to carry, but much worse is if you were unfortunate enough to be born with a congenital disease. As far back as I can remember, I was always being carried from health center to health center looking for a blood type that matched mine. What charge was I guilty of? I was diagnosed with sickle cell disease. Even more unfortunate, my blood type is A-negative; one of the rarer blood types there are (as I have been told).
Meet little Mialy, Mia, and their father…known simply as Baba. They—along with 15 other siblings—made up my host family during a time spent in the arid region of southern Madagascar, where I was doing research on the Antandroy communities.
I often think back to this family with bittersweet fondness. When I was there, I was profoundly inspired by their love for life and their appreciation of the simple joys it brings…while endlessly cheered by their wide grins and generous laughter.
But now, when I glance at this photo, their visage seems to reveal a truth much deeper…and my heart aches a little.
Nevertheless, the sound of their laughter will remain with me forever, and I am thankful to have met them…and grateful for the lessons they taught me in treasuring the simple moments in life.
Founded in 2013 by Phoebe Chi, MD, PhoebeMD: Medicine + Poetry is a health information and literary arts website that aims to inspire, empower, and inform through a curated mix of essential health information, uplifting stories, and original poetry.