Friday, May 8, 2009

Keep it small

written by Dr. Stacy Orloff

It’s easy to get overwhelmed… every where I look I see ‘big’.  Overwhelming poverty; too full hospital beds (sometimes with two children in one bed); a one room shack with no electricity or running water; a granny caring for her four year old grandson; an AIDS pandemic that has created thousands of orphaned children.

Then, I see small.  A pediatrician who knew there was a better way to care for children.  She began as a medical student picketing in front of the hospital advocating for ARVs for children.  She continued her advocacy and after much work now runs a very large and successful pediatric palliative care program. Her next step- moving to Cape Town to establish an academic pediatric palliative care program to teach pediatricians across South Africa.  I also saw a nurse who felt called to do something different with her life and started caring for one person infected with HIV who now can proudly ‘show off’ the program she started; a hospice program for HIV positive children. This residential program cares for 240 orphaned HIV + children, allowing them to live there until adulthood.  I also saw hospice nursing sisters and community care workers who, every day, visit their patients, giving them food, medicine, and love.  Their visits do more than just provide food and medicine.  I have personally seen hospice patients regain their sense of hope and feeling of worth because of the love given to them; equally I have seen the nursing sister and community care worker ‘filled up’ again because of the love given to them by their patient.

So, what have I learned?  Not to focus on the big- I can’t make the whole problem go away.  I can make a piece of it better.  So, for my remaining days here I am committed to keeping it small.  I can do that.



  1. I am a friend of Cathy and Steve's, Stacy - Your post is a good lesson for all.

    I posted it to my newsgroup here:


    John Uce

  2. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

  3. As always, you hit the nail on the head! Keep thinking small and all the small together will be bbigger than you can ever imagine! Miss you! SUSAN

  4. Am enjoying the postings Stacy. You always find the words to help those of us at home share your experience. What you and your group are doing is big, very big. Am proud to know you, truly.

  5. Your "small" message made a big impact on me! Can't wait to hear more. Love wrapped in a big ball of energy, Forrest