The following post was written by Eugene Flood, an advisor to IGHID and a member of the 15-person African Long Climb team. On July 10, the AFLC team finished their eight-day climb up Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for IGHID.
I had heard of the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Disease (IGHID) for years through my friends Drs. Ada Adimora and Paul Godley, but I only became intimately aware of it when I was at a birthday party at their house about three years ago. I was cornered by the energetic and inspiring Institute’s Director, Dr. Mike Cohen. For those of you who have never met Mike – you need to. He leads a team of doctors, scientists and caregivers who have tackled some of the world’s thorniest and important medical scourges of our time – HIV AIDS, cancer, burns and clean water. He speaks at an almost unintelligible rate, and always communicates with total conviction, passion, and engaging humor. My first lecture under Professor Cohen must have lasted about 30 minutes while partygoers circled around us with food and merriment. I was totally engaged with my lesson — I only wish I had had a notebook. I learned so much. And the learning never stops when you’re around this team.
The issues that the Institute has attacked, such as HIV AIDS, obviously have global importance. Yet some have taken an especially large toll on the earth’s poorest people. I have been blessed to have had an exciting career in the global financial markets. But until now I had never experienced the thrill of hearing the unspeakable gratefulness from a family who still has an HIV-positive loved one alive after ten years because of the care given by the Institute’s doctors. Nor had I felt the joy of hearing a young boy from a village in Africa tell how he can focus and learn all day in school now because he has clean water and there is nothing moving in his stomach. Nor had is witnessed the awe of seeing doctors and nurses literally snatch the life of a burn victim out of the jaws of death and lead them back into a functioning existence.
I am so proud to be part of the IGHID team. As Chairman of the Advisory Board, I tell people everywhere I go about the marvelous work that the team is undertaking. And I am recruiting new and old friends to come be a part of this journey with me. The Kilimanjaro climb is the first of many adventures of all sorts that I expect to have as we spread the Institute’s story and gather supporters and funds to continue this glorious work of touching lives and improving the world.