August 2017:

Our latest adventure takes us on an overnight silk road train from Beijing to the autonomous Ningxia Hui Province of China. Ningxia borders inner-mongolia and its population, who lacks access to the same high quality healthcare that is available in the large cities, is predominantly Muslim. The people are a mixture of Hui and Han ethnicities, and are proud of Ningxia’s famous delicacies: goji berries, watermelon, lamb, and wine!

We are working with our largest team yet — 110 doctors and 200 support staffers — as we travel from north to south over the course of two weeks. About 1,000 patients are treated at each stop.

The HanHong Love Charity Foundation, led by one of China’s most famous folk musicians (youtube HanHong), goes big or goes home. Her publicity encourages donors and fellow pop stars to contribute, and this year’s entourage includes donations of 30 new ambulances, 60 SUV’s, several busses, 30 medical speciality tents, portable ultrasounds, as well as the first ever cervical cancer screening brigade.

In addition to the Visualization with Acetic Acid and cervicography exam, we’ve now added, with the help of United Family Healthcare, two HPV detecting machines. We are able to screen more women in less time, thanks to this technology that allows women to self-swab and only undergo a cervical cancer screening exam if they test positive for high-risk HPV.

Now, we are screening up to 180 women (as opposed to the 25 we could screen without the HPV machine) per clinic day!

The people are gracious and kind, and we all wish we were able to communicate in Mandarin. We are grateful to our friend Roberta Lipson, head of 9 hospitals around China and CEO of United Family Healthcare, who is our translator and right-hand woman. She quickly picked up Bananagrams, and is just the competition our family needed.

Over the banquet style dinner each night, which features no less than 20 different salads, soups, entrees, and steamed buns, we add a few new chinese phrases to our vocabulary.

Julia, who has been busy counting vitamins and fetching medications at pharmacy, is the subject of a lot of paparazzi attention. Nobody here has ever seen a little white girl as cute as she is! She is stopped for selfies and filmed throughout the day.

Mom is like a kid in a candy store with rare dermatology cases, and Mimi and I are proud members of Dad’s gynie squad. Most of all, we are thrilled to be together as a family after spending our summers in different cities and countries.

Signing off, Lena

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