We are so inspired by our customers and learning how they make the world a better place. Sherry Roberts, MSN, RN, CPAN, lives in the Washington D.C. area and has been an ICU, operating room and recovery room nurse for almost 20 years, after serving six years as a NAVY corpsman. She embarks on medical campaigns all over the world, providing education and training in hospital operating rooms, and her upcoming trip to Butajira, Ethiopa will be her fourth. This town of just over 33,000 people is located in south-central Ethiopia. Not only does Sherry wear Anatomie clothing during her travels —“I love how easy it is to clean and to stow”— but she uses the Anatomie tote bags from past purchases in innovative ways. “I utilize those bags to make positioning pillows for the operating suite,” she explains. “They work so well for storing gear and then as pillows.”
Tell us more about your experiences in Butajira…
“About four years ago, a member of the Global Medical Foundation [a volunteer group of physicians, nurses, allied health professionals and humanitarian volunteers] had heard about my skill set from a mutual professional acquaintance. Our team leader is from this particular area of Ethiopia and each year he reassembles us to go back and provide care. We assist the local care providers by providing education and training for general surgery and surgical treatment for burn victims. We spend seven days working and one day on each end of the week traveling to and from the location. Our team consists of four physicians, four translators, two nurses, and two non-medical volunteers. My role as the operating room coordinator is to keep it all moving smoothly, and make something out of nothing when necessary.”
How did you discover the Anatomie bags would make good positioning pillows?
“When I received my first order from Anatomie, I saw potential for the black bags. The strings would allow for storing and hanging from IV poles and door hinges. Once we arrived, there seemed to be a shortage of pillows for positioning people during surgery or just for resting their heads. Everything you bring must be multifunctional as space is at a premium and supplies are always limited.”
What do you stuff the Anatomie bags with to create pillows?
“Great question! I packed the Anatomie bags with IV saline bags and bed linens, then encased the whole thing with a plastic bin bag to allow for cleaning.”
You use the bags to store gear as well?
“I had six bags total. I used four for positioning and the other two were used to hold intravenous starting kits that were assembled and placed in the operating theater holding area.”
Tell us about the people you help in Butajira...
“We are a secular organization that cares for the local people. Although we do provide individuals with healthcare, our team goal is to both teach the local care providers as well as to learn from them. The nurses and physicians in Butajira are the finest in the world. They work so hard with so little everyday, and do so much good for their community. I have the deepest respect for these amazing health care providers and it’s our privilege to work with them.”
Is there a particularly rewarding experience you can share?
“There was a small child about 5 years old with a severe injury that may have required amputation of her arm. She was the same age as my daughter. I went to her bedside to prepare her for the surgery. Through a translator, her mother beseeched me not to allow the arm to be amputated, that we do all we could to save the child and the arm. I sat with them and showed them a video of my own child. The video showed my child hugging me and saying she loved me. Through the translator, I told the mother that today your child is my child. I will love and care for her as I would my own. I couldn’t promise to save the arm but I could promise as only a mother can—that I would do everything I could. She handed me the child and hugged me. We saved the arm for cosmetic purposes, but she will not regain function. I was able to hand the girl back to her mother once the procedure was completed and to see her for follow-up care.”
What were your impressions of Ethiopia?
“The Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia Hospital [dedicated to the treatment and prevention of childbirth injuries called obstetric fistulas] was the highlight of my medical travel career! I was able to meet Dr. Catherine Hamlin [renowned obstetrician and co-founder of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia] and meet the staff of the facility in Addis Ababa. I was fortunate to have had the full tour of Ethiopia! I was able to attend the Christmas festivities in Lalibela and Timkat festival [Ethiopian Orthodox celebration of Epiphany] in Addis Ababa. The people are so beautiful and so resilient. I do love spicy food and Doro Wat [Ethiopian chicken stew] is my favorite. The coffee is delicious and I highly recommend you try the local coffee-making ceremony.”
What inspires you to keep going back?
“The staff at the hospital in Butajira keep me coming back. I am profoundly impressed by their abilities and ingenuity. The opened a neonatal intensive care unit with minimal funding and lots of creativity. They saw a problem and they worked tirelessly to address and fix the lack of neonatal care. There is so much to learn and so much more that I have to give to the people of Ethiopia. I grow professionally and personally with each experience.”
What other medical campaigns have you participated in?
“I have been fortunate to work with HELPS International in the Guatemalan cities of Tecpán, Huehuetenango and Sololá. I travelled with the Mercy Outreach Surgical Team to the Mexican cities of Mérida, Huejutla de Reyes and Aguascalientes, and with Vision Health International to Piura, Peru. I am heading out in January with the Global Medical Foundation to Kathmandu, Nepal followed by Butajira. I will be wearing my Anatomie clothing quite a bit this year.”
How long have you been wearing Anatomie?
“I have been wearing Anatomie for the past three years. I was searching travel blogs for ‘the best travel clothing’ and Anatomie was a name I saw most often.”
What do you love about Anatomie?
“I love Anatomie for many reasons. The clothing is wrinkle-free, lightweight, stores well, and is easy to wash and dry. I represent my organization wherever we travel and Anatomie allows me to look my best when I am getting on and off the plane. I promised myself to only wear my Anatomie clothing for travel, but it’s since become staples of my weekend wear.”
Favorite Anatomie pieces to take to Ethiopia?
“During one particular trip, there was a surprise dinner that would be attended by several of the local VIPs. I literally unrolled my Skyler pants and threw on a T-shirt and locally-made shawl and was dressed for dinner. I have one pair of Paola bootcut pants, and two pairs of cargo-type shorts (just above the knee) that I take with me. These are my favorites as they always look fresh despite the journey and are appropriate wear within the local culture.”
Carry-on or check-in luggage when you travel?
“For medical campaign work, I typically bring two large NAVY seabags and a roller duffle. I have one carry-on that provides me with a week of clothing and toiletries should my check-in be delayed.”