Category: Miscellaneous

“Care for Everyone” is More than Masks and Social Distancing

May 5th, 2020 by

Benches lined up in a row

If there’s one thing that COVID-19 has taught us, it’s that we should be looking out for others. That means taking care of one another, even if the other person is a complete stranger.

Right now we’ve been asked to “care for everyone” by practicing social distancing and wearing masks in public.

But I think that taking care of everyone implies much more than that. It means adopting a culture of kindness. It means stopping for a moment to help when you see someone in need. It means habitually thinking about the welfare of others.

I’m concerned that some of the current COVID-19 measures – the ubiquitous warnings about mask-wearing, social distancing, etc. – may actually have an antithetical effect on us.

You need only go to the grocery store to see this. In some ways, the current climate is telling us that the person you don’t know who’s standing in the aisle close to you is to be avoided at all costs. If you didn’t think that yourself, the recorded store-wide announcement will repetitively tell you so.

Speaking of the grocery store, in my limited public outings I’ve noticed something that’s got me thinking. Perhaps it has struck a chord with you too.

Have you noticed that a mask covers a smile?

What happens to a society when a smile – the most universal sign of human happiness, warmth, and connection – must be covered up?

Obviously, public health advisories are important and should be heeded.

However, I’m looking forward to the day that we can drop the masks, shake hands, and actually care for one another without worrying about how much space is between us.

A Nurse Making a Difference

December 16th, 2019 by

doctor blight with nurse bieri

I’d like to introduce you to Doreen Bieri, a nurse who was born in Cameroon and lives in Switzerland. I met her this week at the Afro-European Medical Research Network’s annual conference, and I wanted to tell you about her inspiring work.

Doreen combines her medical knowledge with her understanding of Cameroonian society to make a unique contribution. She makes washable sanitary pads for young Cameroonian girls who begin menstruation.

If you’re in my network, then you may have heard me talk about aging and you know that I support openly acknowledging the realities of the human body. There are realities of our physiology, realities of life, which people don’t always want to talk about. Menstruation is one of those things.

Doreen plainly speaks of growing up as a young girl without education or hygiene assistance, and she sees the same situation faced by girls in Cameroon today.

So she decided to do something about it. She enlisted the help of a few volunteers, and they started making washable sanitary pads for young women. Funded entirely by herself, Doreen and her team have produced hundreds of washable pads for Cameroonian girls, and she trains the girls (and their mothers, if necessary) on how to use them.

At one point in Doreen’s presentation, she asked the audience to look under the table where we were sitting. I discovered a washable sanitary pad under my table. Yeah, that happened.

Doreen is making a difference, and she welcomes partners in her work. She can be contacted via her website at


caregiving speaker