Taken around Thanksgiving time, these girls were part of the dear family I lived with during my time in Madagascar. Although they didn’t seem to have a lot, they were always joyful and thankful, and seeing this photo reminds me again that we should not be any different.
Wishing everyone in the States a wonderful Thanksgiving week!
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.
• Our village specialized in ‘bageda’…sweet potatoes. After harvesting, we would bring them to the market and trade them for maize. Although only Hanitra and Puppydoc are pictured above…
But not just any man. An elderly man, a former high school teacher…and a former patient of mine from a charity clinic where I used to work.
It happened as I was driving through downtown, stopped at a light beneath an overpass. Suddenly, I heard a familiar voice.
Since we were both hungry, we did the natural thing: we went for lunch at a nearby cafe. Despite intrigued glances from others, we had a lovely lunch. Looking back, it may have been one of the most enjoyable lunches I’ve ever had.
A few days later, I was contacted by the clinic who informed me that I had received a letter from a patient. And here I will share it with you—in a form put into verse by me but which maintains its original wording:
Dear doc, you have been so kind to me. Why, you even took me to lunch. I wish I could give you something in return, but I know I don’t have much.
So I write these simple words to you in hope that on those days that they’ll make you smile and give you strength and peace in many ways.
You are a doctor to many, but an angel you have been to me, who encouraged, cared, and healed my pain, and a light you made me see.
I am sad that you are no longer my doc but am glad that you are my friend. And I hope we can keep in touch until the very end.
So why did I share this? Because I was “challenged” by Liz to give a gift to someone. But now I realize—I don’t think I succeeded in giving anything to anyone.
Rather, the gift was given to me.
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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.