June 16th, 2008
Last month I traveled with a photographer to Africa as part of a trip organized by Johnson & Johnson’s contributions team to meet with partners whose health and education programs we support. I take such trips from time to time as one way of chronicling our charitable work “in the field” for our employees and others. Beyond that, though, these trips give me and my traveling buddies a chance to see firsthand what our “on-the-ground” partners are doing to help us save and improve lives, prevent diseases, and build health care capacity for those who need it most. By any definition, this was a trip filled with physically exhausting travel and a steady dose of emotional moments, as many of these journeys tend to be. What gets to me most are the seemingly insurmountable circumstances that face our fellow brethren day in and day out – and particularly the children (many the age of mine!) living in squalor and struggling with diseases such as polio that have long been eradicated in the developed world. Or, the many disenfranchised women and children who, for a variety of social and political reasons, aren’t given the opportunity to learn in formal educational settings. Among all this despair are stories of hope and aspiration, driven by large and small NGOs and community leaders – or, as I like to describe them, angels on earth.