This noun, in use from 1847 to 1853 means a continued passion, an unyielding disease. My aeipathy for putting myself on the front lines of relief and development is a continued passion or I would not keep organizing my life around writing about poverty and injustice, preferably from the scene. I’ve always thought of that as a good thing, important enough for me to feel that my mission in life is to be a voice for the poor. (When I’m not on my other mission of promoting Italy). Now I see my mission coupled with an unyielding disease.

People Who Serve the Poor (PWSPs) and their fundraisers must be grateful the word died before it reached puberty. Who wants to think of charity work akin to drug resistant TB. I think of Liam who set up a microcredit program in Croatia while bullets were still flying. I think of Susy in El Salvador, young, inexperienced, stuck on a dirt road with a donkey sitting on the hood of her VW bug when she was pioneering microlending to women.  I think of Richard, a retired dentist from Wisconsin, who moved to Port-au-Prince and set up a medical clinic in a slum — and lived in that slum providing basic medical care. These are my heroes – or in the context of aeipathy — these are some of the people who infected me.

Aeipathy is a word that makes me think: when does my passion become pathological? When I am annoyed to see people’s eyes glaze over in boredom when I talk about empowering women and microcredit?   The fact that my most prized possession is a wooden bell from Haiti?

This word provides too much personal fodder for a blog. But it helps me think in new ways. I am a first world citizen with a third world heart. I am frequently torn between giving to the poor and breaking my plastic at the mall. After weeks of eating what poor people eat, I come home and fill a grocery cart at Trader Joe’s.

If this disease makes it into diagnostic manuals and is a Medicare-covered condition, I hope I am quarantined with people like Liam and Susy and Richard – and that Trader Joe’s delivers.


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2 Responses to “AEIPATHY”

  1. bill Says:

    If it’s a disease it’s somewhat contagious. As a result of my discussions with you on this subject (as well as good marketing by Opportunity International) our family got involved with the some of the microcredit opportunities offered by OI this past Christmas. There were many e-mails back & forth from Cindy & me to our son in NY as we read the stories and became small parts of the lives of business women in several parts of the world.

    Thankfully, AEIPATHY doesn’t always yield to its ugly cousin, APATHY. Thanks for being willing to have the disease. I hope it is untreatable.

  2. stiggerink Says:

    On this eve of International Women’s Day, I am delighted that you and your family are empowering women. I met many women this last trip to India who have come so far with a $45 microloan. As good as the financial improvement is, the dramatically increased self-esteem is so heart warming. I’m glad you caught the bug. Pass it on!

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