Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Ratcliffe/Emerson Family Portrait

Amy Ratcliffe

Paul Emerson
I have just completed a portrait of my good friend Amy and her family. She and I went to high school together and became close quickly. I was new, and she was gracious. Anyway, long story short, we went off to college and our seperate ways and came back in touch a few years back, where I learned the AMAZING things she is doing and has done. We have a really fun relationship now, watching what each other does with the skills we have attained over this life. Also, we love to talk about balancing lifetime goals with family and trying to keep them all part of one great dream. She also has been a GREAT supporter of my art, she flies in for shows, buys paintings, and most of all looks and thinks and talks to me about it. Always at the right time, when I feel I have no direction, there is Amy, putting into words what I try so desperately to express. I asked her to give me a little background infomation about her and Paul, she is great with words, I'm better with paint. So, if you want to be inspired... take the time to read what one family is doing to improve the fate of the world.

Paul and I met in Farafenni, The Gambia in 1997 when I was there
considering topics for my doctoral dissertation. I decided to study
and reproductive behavior in a polygynous society. The question was
posed to me, are men polygynous for the women or the children? My
answer, after three years of research, was both. In the rural Gambia,
men's idea of what it is to be successful is based on being the leader
of an active and productive family. And, for anyone wondering, many
in The Gambia are very concerned about their family's well-being and
want provide for everyone equally. I have always been interested in
gender studies but as I learned more and more, I wanted to apply my
science to improving public health and making a difference. As an
epidemiologist/demographer, I try to make sure my research is directly
relevant to health programs that will benefit the most disadvantaged.
At the Centers for Disease Control and Promotion, I am working to show
the impact of the US government's malaria programs in sub-Saharan
with a really great team of people.

Paul's work on trachoma, a potentially blinding eye infection, has
included demonstrating that flies spread the infection, identifying
breeding sites for flies, showing that building latrines to reduce
breeding sites can reduce infection, and evaluating programs that
promote hygiene and sanitation as ways to reduce trachoma. At The
Carter Center now he runs programs in several African countries and
works to address trachoma directly. He also still finds time to
new scientific findings in top medical journals, including two in the
Lancet this year!

By the time Paul and I left The Gambia in 2002, we had both earned our
doctoral degrees, been married for 4 years and our first daughter was
months old. Our second daughter was born while we were living in
England in 2003. At the moment, we are settled in Atlanta with our
children in a fabulous school that shares our values of equality,
respect for all peoples and the environment, and community service.
girls are healthy and make us proud every day. We live down the street
from the Martin Luther King Center and work at fabulous institutions.
We travel to England to visit family and enjoy long walks over rolling,
green hills.

For both of us, our work is as important as our family. Today is our
eighth anniversary and we adore our two daughters but Paul is off in
Southern Sudan and I am busy at work getting ready for a meeting in DC
tomorrow. We are both very passionate about the need to improve the
health of people around the world, especially in Africa where poverty
puts people at risk of diseases caused by infection, nutrition and poor
access to health care. Hopefully, our children will respect us for
and not feel neglected when we wave good-bye from another taxi to the


Lois said...

Does anyone know how to create a link within the text post? I can't get my links to Paul and Amy to go there.
Please help.

ValGalArt said...

This is soooo wonderful! What an amazing story and friendship!!! I love the family portrait and they must love it too, it's like you wrapped them up in the sun and they are riding around the world in the light. It sounds like they are doing that very thing!

I hope you figured out how to send this...

rekha said...

Hi Amy: Read your blog and was delighted to get back some wonderful memories of our brief association with you and Paul. And guess what?? Me and Bhaskar are in Augusta GA for the last three years.

Best wishes