September 10, 2015
Dr. Crawford serves as an example of what the late Dr. Frist represented. His compassion for people is unyielding and his desire to volunteer is admirable. His actions prove that he is ethical and his values demonstrate respect and dignity to all patients, co-workers and peers.
Dr. Crawford began his international medical work in 1985 while still in medical school at Stanford University. He and his wife Dr. Susan Abkowitz volunteered in Tanzania during their fourth year of medical school and began volunteering with Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO). At that time Medical schools did not yet have the programs that are offered now to students, allowing them organized training experiences overseas. Glen and his wife Susan sought this opportunity out on their own and in his wife’s Susan’s words “It was wild; TB, meningitis, cerebral malaria, lion mauling’s, spear wounds, and they didn’t really know about HIV – there was little equipment and we were reusing gloves and even IV’s then, if you can believe that, and improvising, doing amazing operations with nothing!” Susan and Glen have been volunteering their time to Health Volunteers Overseas for over 25 years now, an impressive accomplishment serving around the world. After Dr. Crawford and Dr. Abkowitz started their own family they would bring their children along on the mission trips, allowing them to attend school in different places throughout the world; teaching them the importance of giving back and exposing their children to different cultures. Through their volunteer work with HVO they have traveled to Indonesia in 1991, Bhutan in 1994 & 2000, Tanzania multiple times, Ethiopia in 2006, Vietnam in 1998 and South Africa in 1996.
A few years ago Dr. Crawford began a teaching program through Health Volunteers Overseas at Kilimanjaro Medical Center in Moshi, Tanzania. Through this program Dr. Crawford is responsible for overseeing orthopedic volunteers who volunteer at the center as well as overseeing the teaching program there. The center has numerous cases of motor vehicle trauma with open fractures. Often times patients will have had these injuries for months, they will hobble around receive poor medical treatment that will than cause osteomyelitis and finally make their way to Dr. Crawford for proper medical care. His volunteer work with this program has awarded him the Golden Apple Award for teaching excellence.
Dr. Crawford also gives his time to International Medical Equipment Collaborative (IMEC) a non-profit organization that works to provide medical facilities around the world with proper medical equipment. Dr. Crawford and his wife worked to send more than 90, 40 foot containers filled with necessary medical supplies to hospitals, clinics and teaching centers worldwide!
Perhaps of the most special volunteer work he does is the program he has started closer to home in Newburyport, Massachusetts. The Greater Newburyport – Bura Alliance (GNBA) links Bura, Taita and Kenya with Newburyport, Massachusetts to do teaching exchanges, farmer exchanges, orphan program – providing school uniforms and books, building and equipping clinics, agroforestry programs and tree planting, erosion protection and a heifer program. Perhaps one of the most unique programs that was initiated by the Crawford Family was the soccer sports program whose idea came from their son, Matt, while on a trip he noticed some of the children playing with balls made of trash, so when they returned home he collected 60 soccer balls and sent them over in one of the containers of medical equipment. There is now a sports program in that village and surrounding villages for 600 children from 10 different schools. The Crawford’s continue to provide balls, trophies, certificates and uniforms to ensure that this wonderful program can continue.