My best friend turned 39 (again) this past month. She's a suburban girl who has held my hand for so long now that it's hard to imagine not having done life with her. The older I get (and no one has thought I was 39 for a long time now), the less I take for granted how long we have walked through life side by side.
Njoroge’s wife died one night when I was on call a few years ago, leaving him with their 8-year-old daughter. The Kijabe team did what few places in Kenya could have done for Njoroge's wife. But it was too late. And she was 32.
She had been healthy, and now she was dead, and once upon a time, I was married to a 32-year-old woman too.
I’ve been doing this job so long that nights like this shouldn't make me tear up. But they do.
Wes and I started Banda a few years ago because God let me do just a little bit of life with Njoroge. If his wife had gotten a bit better care a few weeks before she came to us she would still be alive, taking some inexpensive medicines to treat her illness, and watching her daughter grow up. But she isn’t. And now Njoroge and his daughter wake up every morning without her.
Because it's what happens when sweethearts live on the edge of absolute poverty.
Today Banda is working with 77 "no-doctor" clinics in the slums and villages where the poorest families live, helping these clinics improve the care they give to 300,000 patients per year. There is so much more that needs to be done, though, and so many more places that we need to do it.
But it's clear now that getting good healthcare within walking distance of all of the world's poorest patients is possible.
And so we are working hard to get the resources needed to move much faster, and using our lean innovation approach to maximize the impact of every dollar that we have.
Because Njoroge's sweetheart should be turning 39 next year. But she isn't.
And one day, that will be different.