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Just What the Doctor Ordered

Yael Schuster

Malaria pills? Check. Vaccinations? Check. Empire frozen chickens? Check. Bug spray? Check. Flashlights? Check. Osem onion soup mix? Check.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Rwanda is the land of the Hutus and the Tutsis, subsistence agriculture, and the centuries-old intore dance; a land of savannah and volcanoes, the Twa pygmy people, and a tourism industry built on the nation’s population of mountain gorillas. It was also the site of a mass killing spree 20 years ago that left the country bloodied and limping. So why in the world would a nice Jewish boy want to visit? “That is definitely a question my mother wanted answered,” saysDr.MarkLevie, associate chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Women’s Health at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, New York. The answer was really quite simple:Dr.Levie wanted to help out a delegation providing medical aid and training to the Rwandan locals. “When the opportunity to participate arose, I found my hand shooting up,” he recalls. “My colleagues pointed out the difficulty I’d have with kashrus, to which I responded, ‘Are there fruits and vegetables over there? I’m good to go.’ ” Despite the challenges involved in traveling 7,000 miles to an East African country that lacks running water in many areas, Levie, 50, said he was motivated by the chance to make a difference. “Here was an opportunity to train residents, in a place where no one has the skills that I do, who will then pass on that knowledge to the next generation of residents, and so on. It was the ability to make a lasting impact that drove me.” Levie also wanted to send a message to the doctors in his department, and to show his own kids how precious is the value of sacrifice. “If there’s a need out there in the world that you can fill, don’t leave it to someone else.” 

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