What I Learned During My Summer Vacation

Sep 06, 2016

By: Heather Haines, Director, External Relations

After visiting Ethiopia in the spring and climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro as part of the Summit to See the END, Timothy Stoleson shared much of his summer interning with the END Fund. As he gears up for going back to school in Dubai, Timothy jotted down some insights from his experience of learning more about how NTDs can impact so many communities around the world.

By: Timothy Stoleson

This summer has been a very eventful one. Between climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro with the END Fund, rafting through the Grand Canyon, working internships, and preparing for college, I was quite busy! Over this adventure-filled period, I got a chance to reflect on the nature of helping people, and specifically the nature of helping to control and eliminate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in Africa.

Timothy Stoleson
Timothy with his family while climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro‚Äč

As I came back home to the U.S., I realized just how privileged we are to live in a relatively safe and danger free environment.  For the most part, people can go about their lives without having to worry about contracting deadly insect or water-borne diseases. And in the rare occasions when such diseases appear, education can provide a safety net, medicine is easily available, and doctors are ready to treat them. 

While rafting down the Grand Canyon, my limbs were covered in insect bites, but I did not feel a slight bit sick (although itchy). The water on the Colorado River, even when unpurified and unfiltered, was mostly safe to drink. Even so, a weak stomach and a day or two of discomfort is probably the worst thing that would result from drinking the water. 

As I prepare for college applications and a final year of high school, I am fortunate enough to be able to afford furthering my education.  For so many others though, before going back to school, time and money must be spent on ensuring children are healthy enough to learn so that they can live full and prosperous lives. 

Education helps create opportunity. It also helps fight disease by giving people a better knowledge base of the causes of NTDs, and even by creating doctors and medical professionals in communities that may otherwise go without care. However, education cannot progress if children and young adults are immobilized by disease, of which NTDs play a large role. The best way then to provide people the freedom and ability to grow and flourish is to eliminate NTDs, which currently affect over 1 billion people, many across the continent of Africa.  

These are just some of reflections from my summer. What will you reflect on as children around the world begin another year of learning and growth?


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