2023 - Really such a bad year?
On this first day of January 2024 I am looking over the calm San Francisco Bay with blue skies and bright warm sunshine. Many people taking a NewYears walk, some running, some walking their dogs. Canoes, kayaks and people on SUPs galore on the water. Certainly a picture perfect good start to the new year from this perspective. Yet - perspectives differ. An earthquake and tsunami in Japan has already been reported in the news just a few hours ago...
As everyone closed out 2023, there was a general sentiment that 2023 was not a good year. Too many wars and other conflicts, too many people suffering, no substantial progress with climate change, too many disasters. I received so many wishes for 2024 to be a “better year“. But isn’t this really a matter of perspective? The news’ perspective tends to focus on the negative events shaping this world anyway, right?
Looking back at 2023, we at LMI have every reason to celebrate. It was an incredibly good year! Our project in Pangasinan was a resounding success exceeding all expectations. And how much fun we had there! Ultrasound based early detection followed by treatment alone likely saved at least 5 mothers from potentially deadly complications later at birth. Even the poorest of the poor of the municipality for the first time now have access to the prenatal ultrasound examination the WHO recommends for everyone! Not just some, but all midwives we taught fully embraced ultrasound and(!) demonstrated competence at that! One even deferred retirement because of her newfound passion for the job.
Does all this sound like a bad year?
Seeing these successes developing and the overwhelming need in the Philippines over the second half of the year, we had to start setting the stage for two new projects (instead of one) for 2024 and developed a vision for beyond what we thought would be possible.
The partnerships we forged over the course of this year have also been very fruitful, the Culion Foundation Inc., our on the ground partner in the Philippines has been extremely helpful in preparing our next missions, SonoSim provided us with a fantastic simulation tool for POCUS teaching. Thanks to Clarius and their handheld ultrasound probes we will be exploring quality assurance with AI. And partnering with the Department of Health Center for Health Development of the MIMAROPA region of the Philippines helped set the stage for future scaling of our efforts - which our concept of “teaching teachers” is ideally suited for anyway.
We already have increased our team with some great additions from across the US solidifying our continuous remote practice QA and the teaching sessions throughout the year. Please visit them on our website. They make it all possible through giving their time and passion.
As we scale, we also have to look at our finances. We have applied for our first larger Grant (keeping fingers crossed..!). Truly amazing were our 2023 donors. We have received donations from many kind individuals, many of whom gave for the first time and some repeatedly during the same year. Their generosity and kindness is rewarded by the certitude that mothers are being helped and lives saved. However, we have to scale those fundraising efforts also, if finances are to keep the pace with our efforts.
So, was 2023 a bad year? Nope, not really. However I won't reject any one of the wishes for a “better” 2024. It’s going to be good. Why? It will be what we make of it. We have the right people, the right concept and the right support! And we have fun doing what we do! 2024, here we come!!