Wash your hands.
Western medicine is an amazing achievement in human history. To have banished from daily life the unsanitary conditions that breed viruses, bacteria and parasites is a major reason why humans are flourishing on the earth. Yet even in the most affluent of countries and the richest of cities, the causes of a great percentage of sickness and disease survive. A simple illness becomes a major illness when given the right conditions: A dirty kitchen breeds Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, a cut on the foot becomes a wound that won’t heal, a cold becomes pneumonia.
Every case is different but after a while, working within the system that was created to help the people so affected by poverty and disease, you can’t help but start to see patterns at work. Just as a thing is impossible to ignore once its existence is known, how can you turn your back on those in need? The elderly, the sick and the disabled living in society are often living in squalor, for no reason other than they can’t get around to clean like they once may have, and it’s unlikely they can afford to pay a cleaning service on a fixed income.
It’s the call no one ever wants to get. The one that comes in the middle of dinner, the middle of movie night, in the middle of the night: your loved one is in the hospital? How? Where? Why? What happened? A flood of questions inundates the mind, but the answers trickle out like the mirage of an oasis in the desert. These are the calls we get on a weekly and even a daily basis: can you please find a clean place to live for my father, my aunt, this patient? At the same time we can help a family member, a friend, a neighbor, we can also help stop the spread of unnecessary sickness and relieve the overcrowding in the hospitals, in the emergency rooms and in the shelters.
Wash your hands.