What is your life’s purpose?
My life’s purpose is to be a blessing to others.
How are you living your purpose?
As I go about my day, I intentionally look for opportunities to be a blessing. When purposefully watching for such occasions, they are presented on a regular basis. All one needs to do is act on them. A word of caution: sometimes it requires a person to stop and put their busy schedule on hold for a moment. Generally, the event is fleeting and with a stranger—a one and done. From time to time, something special happens—a lasting friendship and/or project is created.
Global Medical Libraries (GML) is an example of the latter. It started with my willingness to send a positive reply to an email request: send current medical textbooks to Iraqi physicians. For the last decade, GML has been my personal philanthropic endeavor. Momentum is such that I am confident it will continue well into the future.
Since the program’s inception in April 2007, over $2.5 M of health sciences (dentistry, nursing, and medical) textbooks have been donated to 27 countries spread over 4 continents, at no expense to the recipients or their governments: Afghanistan, Antiqua, Cameroon, Chad, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Germany, Haiti, Iraq, Malawi, Morocco-Western Sahara region, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Rwanda, Republic of Fiji, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, South Sudan, Tanzania, Turkey, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
GML exists to shrink the education gap in all areas of the health sciences in developing countries, which globally face the same problem: medical and nursing students go without current formal educational resources to learn, and doctors and nurses go without the latest professional information they need to provide proper healthcare to their patients.
Conservatively speaking, a primary care physician will see 25 patients per day; based on working 245 days per year, s/he will have 6,125 patient encounters. Over a 30-year career, s/he will have 183,750 patient encounters. Multiply this figure by the number of students attending medical schools who have received donated education resources from GML, such as Kabul University in Afghanistan (2008), and the number of lives impacted is significant.
Medical professionals in the Western World can rely on medical information websites for looking up clinical questions and maintaining their continuing medical education. Due to technological, financial, and access limitations, medical professionals in developing countries are crippled by the lack of materials with which to teach, learn, and provide healthcare of all kinds. They rely heavily on textbooks for clinical information to learn and manage sick patients.
GML helps developing countries teach doctors and nurses to practice medicine and treat patients. The ripples from the donated books by Americans throughout the country will keep spreading, touching lives for generations to come.
How did you find your purpose?
Meaningful service has always been one of my core values. I attribute it to my Christian upbringing. It feels good to be a blessing. For me, being selfless is really a selfish act.
I never know where my willingness will take me. It propels me out of my comfort zone and at times requires a US Passport. I’ve been to the Democratic Republic, Ethiopia, Malawi, and Uganda and witnessed first-hand the health care challenges. I believe by improving the level of nursing and medical education, developing countries will be less dependent on outside medical assistance.
What advice do you have for purpose seekers?
Everyone has a purpose and it will involve others. My advice to purpose seekers is to combine your strengths with wisdom and truly make a difference in the lives of others, whether those people live down the street or around the world. Your life will be richer in ways which truly matter: your connectivity with others and the resulting impact.
What resources do you recommend?
Bible: Matthew 7:12 (The Golden Rule): “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”
Gift from the Sea by Ann Morrow Lindberg: “The shape of my life is, of course, determined by many things; my background and childhood, my mind and its education, my conscience and its pressures, my heart and its desires.”
The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer: “Your inner growth is completely dependent upon the realization that the only way to find peace and contentment is to stop thinking about yourself.”
Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court by Coach John Wooden with Steve Jamison: “There is a choice you have to make, in everything you do. And you must always keep in mind the choice you make, makes you.” (Anonymous)
In 2017, Valerie retired from traditional employment and is now consulting. She is a Constituency Management and Communications professional with an established reputation as an expert in relationship building; collaborating with individuals and institutions; and communicating with a variety of constituents, including US military, US Department of State, healthcare providers, NGOs, international organizations and academic institutions. Since March 2012, Valerie has served as the Honorary President for Aklesia General Memorial Hospital in Adama, Ethiopia. Earlier this year, she joined the Africa Business Portal Advisory Board. SEE International has a special place in Valerie’s life; whenever possible, she volunteers for the organization and supports its mission to restore sight and transform lives.