* * Anonymous Doc

Saturday, October 22, 2011

"I heard you can calculate my risk of a heart attack. Some kind of score?"

"You mean the Framingham Risk Score?"

"Yeah, I think that was it."

"Wait a second. You're homeless?"


"You were not always homeless."

"No. I was a lawyer in Burundi."

I don't think I realized before working in the clinic how common this is. People who were professionals in their home countries-- educated, high-status professionals-- who sacrifice everything to come here for a better life... and end up as home health aides, cab drivers, busboys, homeless-- the lowest-status workers in our society. It's a shame. And I always want to ask whether life is really better being a cab driver here than it was being a lawyer in Burundi. I expect the money is better. But I wonder if that's enough to make it worth it.


  1. For so many of the professional people who immigrate to first world countries, it's not about their personal happiness as much as it's about their kids happiness and success. A number of my classmates are children of immigrants who sacrificed everything so their kids could have better futures.

  2. Additionally, the political instability and ethnic strife can make living in Burundi and other African nations positively dangerous if you're in the 'wrong' ethnic group (Tutsis vs Hutus, for example). Many have moved to the US because they're political or ethnic refugees. Tracy Kidder's Strength in What Remains, Dave Eggers' What is the What, and another author's Outcasts United are books that cover political and ethnic refugees and their struggles to resettle in the US. They're all great reads, btw.

    Enjoy the blog. Thanks for posting so regularly.

  3. Like SD said, I think a lot of them do it for their kids.

  4. My friend's mom ended her OB/GYN career so that she could move her family to Canada. All for the sake of her kids.