Monday, April 10, 2006
At the Palmer House, Deogratias stood at a podium before a crowd of medical students. He wore a blue suite with a yellow shirt and tie that Diana had chosen for him the night before. He hadn’t seen Diana in over a year. He’d been too eager to see her, but that was last night. Now he had to focus on giving this presentation. Nothing progressed smoothly. The staff didn’t bring the projector to the Monroe Room on time. Deogratias did not have his visual aids. He couldn’t show the mass gravesites, the infirm who are imprisoned rather than hospitalized, the devastation in Rwanda and Burundi in 1994. He filled the time by discussing his work with Paul Farmer at Partners in Health, a Harvard organization. Finally, they brought the equipment. Deo took the stage. Diana cried over the bloated, the malnourished and those afflicted by splenomeglay. She was secretly glad that she was already married when Deo had asked her to marry him some years ago. The pharmacy, in the place Deo called home, didn’t even have one aspirin pill in supply. How could he expect a New York girl to marry into that? During the question and answer session, several people raised their hands to ask, “Can you connect us to opportunities working with Partners in Health?” Deo blinked and didn’t respond to that question at first. Someone asked again. Deo had gotten the job after running into Paul Farmer on a street in Boston and swapping similar life stories over a beer.