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“When the wood-insect gathers sticks on its own head, it carries them.”

Have you ever attended a conference that was unlike any other?

A conference that broadened your understanding in ways you never imagined?

A conference that so deeply affected you that you’re going to be a better person because you were there?

AEMRN conferenceThe recent Afro-European Medical Research Network (AEMRN) Conference was such an event for me.

I traveled to the United Nations Palace in Geneva, Switzerland, to deliver a speech about caregiving at AEMRN’s annual meeting. Whatever I may have contributed to the agenda, it was returned tenfold to me.

I met incredible professionals who are working diligently to promote health-related causes in Africa. I wrote a close-up about one of them here. Everyone I met at AEMRN is devoting their time and their resources to benefit those who struggle under conditions of poverty in Africa.

I learned so much from the other conference participants about the African continent, culture, and challenges. I also learned about what it means to care.

I was uplifted by my many personal conversations with people of wisdom, resilience, and authenticity. I honestly felt as if I had joined a tribe. Dr. Christian Sesay told me that the warmth extended to me was not unusual. “When you go to Africa, they roll out the red carpet for you,” he said.

Dr. Sesay proceeded to share a couple of African proverbs, which I’m still contemplating, days later. One of those proverbs is the title of this post. He offered the proverbs to me as a gift, not a material gift but a spiritual gift, a proverbial application of insight into my own life circumstances. I believe I will carry his gift with me forever.

When humans genuinely care for one another, connections are made that can penetrate perceived social barriers such as race, nationality, and even language. Caring is quite possibly the most universal of all languages.aaron on AEMRN panel