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The Revolution Today: Medics
Although most of Dr. Albigence Waldo’s journal chronicles the hardships of soldiering at Valley Forge, Waldo’s top job was doctoring. Duty called him to the ...

The Revolution Today: Medics

Although most of Dr. Albigence Waldo’s journal chronicles the hardships of soldiering at Valley Forge, Waldo’s top job was doctoring. Duty called him to the worst scenes.

“I was call’d to relieve a Soldier tho’t to be dying he expir’d before I reach’d the Hutt. He was an Indian an excellent Soldier and an obedient good natur’d fellow,” Waldo wrote of his medical mission on January 4, 1778.

U.S. Army Sgt. Eric Hayes followed in the footsteps of Waldo and others when he embarked on a humanitarian mission to Kenya. “During my tour as a civil affairs specialist on a civic action team for Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa, I worked on several Medical and Veterinary Civic Action Programs, better known as MEDCAPS and VETCAPS,” Hayes began his commentary.

And like Waldo, he couldn’t help but notice the challenging landscape. “I shared the excitement of being a wandering explorer with a driving focus to accomplish a specific task. The brightly-colored kikois (rectangle-shaped wrap cloths) and collared shirts contrasted with a landscape alien to me. The smell of roasted curried goat, unfamiliar to me, permeated the air,” he noted, explaining that their plan was to help as many people as possible.

“The first barriers for us to cross were language and culture. It was difficult at first, but by learning a few words and using an interpreter, we were able to build a relationship unlike any I’ve experienced before. This was the connection between two cultures that makes civil affairs successful and awe-inspiring.”

Respect for family was one of the qualities that stood out among the Kenyans. “When people were too sick to travel to the MEDCAP, they would often send their children in their place, walking barefoot for miles on wild dirt paths hoping to pick up some medicine to treat their family members,” Hayes recounted.

“One of the greatest challenges we faced during the MEDCAP was getting medical treatment to the most people in an effective manner. When villagers heard that a MEDCAP was taking place nearby, they showed up expecting some form of treatment for their ailments,” detailed Hayes.

These expectations sparked the medics to work as tirelessly as possible. In some ways, they were building Valley Forge–like huts of protection for the Kenyans. The treatments they provided built walls of support against disease and served a longer-term national security interest for the United States by building stronger bonds with African nations. These medics would never witness the long-term payoff, but the short term brought indescribable satisfaction.

“However, through the long hours of toil, the rewards were priceless. Watching complete strangers leave your sight smiling, walking down a dusty path with an arm full of medicine and vitamins, sure that the treatments would make their families healthier and happier, made our efforts worthwhile,” Sgt. Eric Hayes reported proudly..

Prayer

Give me a heart to serve those in the greatest need. I know that when I serve others, I also serve you.

“He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done”

(Proverbs 19:17).


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