In Honor of Dr. Elizabeth Tarira, 1951-2012

On the morning of July 23, Dr. Elizabeth Tarira, director of St. Albert’s Mission Hospital, died after a lengthy battle with breast cancer. Dr. Tarira was a tireless force for good in Zimbabwe. In all that she did she put her love of the people first. Elizabeth was many things to many people – healer, counselor, friend, mentor, sister and daughter – but to those of us at Better Healthcare for Africa, she was an inspiration and role model. As St. Albert’s Mission Hospital moves forward after the loss of its beloved director, we must keep the staff of the hospital and the people it serves foremost in our minds.

Dr. Elizabeth Tarira (right), her mother, Evelyn Chakaipa Tarira (center) and sister Juliet in 2009.

Elizabeth will be impossible to replace, but to truly honor her memory we must redouble our efforts to help those to whom she dedicated her life and service. She chose to end expensive treatments that may or may not have prolonged her life and to return to Zimbabwe and her beloved St. Albert’s hospital. She knew her time was finite. She chose to work, to serve, for as long as she could at St. Albert’s, for the Zimbabwe Catholic Health Commission and for the poor and the sick of her nation. She spent her final days surrounded by family and friends and under the loving care of those who, at Elizabeth’s side, have kept St. Albert’s going through times that required great courage and times of joy and celebration: Dr. Julia Musariri and Dr. Neela Naha, Melania Nyamukuwa and others who, like Elizabeth, are members of the Associazione Sanitaria Internazionale and have dedicated their lives to providing medical care to the poorest of the poor. They will carry on their work at St. Albert’s, and Elizabeth’s influence will live on through them.

Elizabeth’s passing brings tremendous sadness to all at the Associazione Sanitaria Internazionale, to the staff of St. Albert’s, to Elizabeth’s family, and to all who knew her or knew her work. But we can give it meaning by helping St. Albert’s continue to care for those in need in the community she so loved. If you feel moved to honor Elizabeth, please consider doing so by supporting her work through BHA or another of the hospital’s partner organizations. Elizabeth would not have wanted us to cry for her; instead, she would want us to continue her work, and it is by doing so that we honor the life of this truly extraordinary woman.