Date: Thursday, Feb. 25, 1999 (7:37 p.m.
Subject: Starting Adventurously
I called this e-mail 'Starting Adventurously', as we are the first SELEDA 'Life Diaries' "e-mail partners".
Thought I would take a few minutes break from work (actually I'm waiting on an experiment) and sort of write a few sentences of introduction. I'm sure that you've guessed by now, via my e-mail address, I work at UCLA. I've been here let's see--one, two...five.... never mind, let's just say ____(blank) number of years. I've spent part of it working in the Dept. of Pediatrics doing pediatric AIDS research (explained in a nutshell). I have no patient contact (a lot of people think I do) but work with their blood, virus etc etc in what is known as basic immunology--analyzing the cells that fight the disease. I also work on how the whole immune system changes with the disease; etc etc. That's all where the fun and interesting stuff is!
Today has been sort of a semi-easy one--analyzing a lot of data (I'm almost 2 months behind on this). But, of course, blood shipment arrived from New York this afternoon (why, oh why, FedEx couldn't you have brought it in this morning?) This, of course, means another 2 hours (it's already 4:25pm) to set up the experiment (the cells are spinning hence my 15 minute break--oops, now its only 5 minutes).
Our SELEDA editor told me you were on NPR-- what does that stands for? I understand you too are a researcher but I'm assuming far different from my field. Can't wait to hear about you and what you do.
Ted, my centrifuge just stopped so I must (with much regret) end the first of our many e-mails here. Duty calls.
Will write soon.
Date: Friday, February 26, 1999 (10:41 a.m. EST)
Great to hear from you--I was hoping to write first but it has been a hellish week at work. Interestingly, I almost deleted your e-mail but was lured by the unusual heading. I had some 100 plus e-mails this morning --I usually delete most of them without opening them, especially if I do not recognize the name.
What a coincidence that you are doing pediatric AIDS research. On the way to work, I was listening to a two-part piece from Zimbabwe on the AIDS epidemic with a special focus on pediatric AIDS. It was on National Public Radio (NPR)--answer to your question--on Morning Edition. You can listen to it on their web site.
It is an interesting, yet controversial project undertaken by a scientist from Johns Hopkins University. The project aims to bring in 15,000 new-mothers and their kids and see the effect of a high dose of Vitamin A--you know the rest. I knew how things have gotten out of control in Zimbabwe, but did not pay attention about the consequences on kids--the next generation of leaders.
As a brief introduction, let me say that I was born in Dire Dawa,-very few of us are here in a place dominated by the "civilized" people from Addis--just kidding--sensitivity check. I have been in the States since 81, a graduate of Howard University in International Relations. I was recruited while still in graduate school by the Congressional Research Service in 1989.
I work on African issues for the U.S. Congress. My work entails a lot of interaction with committee staff from both in the Senate and House of Representatives; briefing members of Congress; and a lot of writing. I travel at least twice a year to a region in Africa. I spent two weeks last December in West Africa with two Members of Congress, one from California: Tom Campbell. I was in east Africa, including Ethiopia/Eritrea a year ago and visited Bahr Dar for the first time.
My days at work are long--at least 10-11 hours. My workload is influenced by the crisis of the day. As I am sure you are well aware--we have plenty of crisis in Africa these days, including one of our own mess and senseless conflict. I am bombarded daily with propaganda from all sides, every one seeking to get endorsment or support their position, and everyone thinks their case is just.
I have maintained my objectivity--and sanity--over the years in large part by maintaining a low profile, unless I am really pissed or outraged. I love what I do but sometimes it takes its toll: especially when you see a two year old die in front of you in southern Sudan or when you visit wounded soldiers with no medical attention given to them.
It is also painful to learn--close to home--the number of casualties of young Ethiopians and Eritreans whose parents have no clue as to where they are. Yet you hear people here in this town--whose lifestyle will not be affected by anything that happens there-- beat the war drum Sorry I am letting out steam. I was just informed a few hours ago that things have turned for the worst on the Bademe front.
I hope you will educate me about what you are doing--it is a field I am totally ignorant about. I have a couple of colleagues at UCLA, and have had a couple of interns from there.