From Abby: A Few Setbacks

Hi everyone…hope your January is going well.  I am hesitant to write this posting, as many things about my trip to St. Albert’s have suddenly become very uncertain.  Rather than wait until I have more concrete information, however, I wanted to share with you what’s been going on.

Darrell and I recently received communications from Dr. Tarira expressing significant concern about rising anti-American sentiment throughout Zimbabwe as the country moves towards its elections in June.   She is unsure whether my coming there would be wise or even safe, due to the current political campaigns going on and the events she’s witnessed recently.  In addition, it seems that I may have some difficulty obtaining a visa to stay in Zimbabwe for more than 30 days.

This information is disheartening for all of us, to be sure.  Zimbabwe has not, on this time, been placed on any travel warnings list by the US State Department, so I can still continue with my trip plans.  However, if Zimbabwe gets put on that list, my College of Medicine will not allow me to travel there.  And in addition, while I very much want to go to St. Albert’s and help, I’m not sure that making an unsafe decision would be beneficial for anyone.

Because I have my MPH project to think about (which requires institutional approval for any changes and has to be planned in advance), I will have to make a decision very soon about whether to continue with my original plans to go to St. Albert’s, or to travel elsewhere this spring – perhaps, back to Ethiopia – in order to fulfill my academic requirements.  I have been talking to several people around the university who are familiar with Zimbabwe and global health issues, but don’t yet have a consensus about what the best course of action may be.  We have also contacted the American Embassy in Harare, but didn’t get any good information or advice back from them, unfortunately.

Whatever happens this spring, I know that I will continue to stay involved with BHA and St. Albert’s.  I have fallen in love with the hospital and this organization, and strongly believe in its mission and goals.  Regardless of whether I am able to go now, I definitely will want to be there sometime in the future. Hopefully during my residency training or at least, once I am finished, I will be able to make that happen.

Thanks for reading, and I will certainly keep you posted as this situation unfolds.  Any thoughts or advice are always greatly appreciated!