My Week: Sarah Kessler meets global dignitaries by the hand dryer

The head of outreach at Lifebox Foundation, the international charity that provides surgical equipment and training, recounts her week

Sarah Kessler
Sarah Kessler

Monday When I first started working at Lifebox, I couldn't get my tongue around the medical jargon. I like the science but it's so precise, and every emotion gets wrung out. For our blog this morning I spend an hour on the phone interviewing a doctor who has just returned from South Sudan, and her stories are devastating. So I'm ready to go a few more rounds in the ongoing debate with trustees about how to draw attention to the global surgical safety crisis.

Tuesday We donate equipment to hospitals in 90 countries and have to deal with international customs clearance. Today a shipment is stuck in Bolivia, and we're busy tracing it. I spend the afternoon reviewing more requests and discussing our plan for clearing another large shipment. Tell me where you're going on holiday and I will tell you how many copies of the consignment note they need. I'm excellent company in the pub these days.

Wednesday I get an early flight to Geneva to attend the World Health Assembly. Surgery was once seen as the neglected stepchild of global health and we need to show our support. I encounter the Minister of Health of Burundi drying her hands in the toilets and I shout a garbled introduction over the dryer.

Thursday I awake sleepy after returning home from Geneva last night and head into the office where I sink into my chair, not so smartly dressed. My colleague has just come back from visiting a project in Rwanda, and he's brought us coffee. I make a vat and get stuck into sorting notes, follow-up emails and a report for trustees - they want to know what happened.

Friday I spend the morning writing a pitch letter that tries to link anaesthesia and baking in one compelling paragraph. After work, I attend a party on a houseboat but have to take a call from the management group. Our office building shuts at 6pm, so it's a rite of passage to take calls at odd hours and in odd locations.

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