My work with the hemophilia community too me to Skopje, Macedonia last week. I'm evaluating the local patient organization for a potential twinning program. As an established chapter, we would spend 4 years helping the Skopje association work towards better organization, fundraising, programs, and services for members of the bleeding disorders community. Although this is my first trip to Europe, I'm amazed at how comfortable I feel, not only in the hemophilia community, but in the city. One of the well-traveled staff mentioned that Americans sometimes say that America is the "best" country. I don't believe that because each country has it's greatness and it's problems.
I loved the people, the food, the city. We traveled out of the city up to a beautiful lake called Matka (First photo). We ate at a restaurant up there and visited a very old Orthodox church. I learned from a Macedonian I met at the airport that Matka means "womb." I found it very fitting considering how beautiful the area was and how difficult it was to access.
The people of Hemalog, the Macedonian hemophilia society, were very kind and generous. One man, Simon, gave us some of his homemade wine and brandy. They also treated us to meals and showed us around the city and surrounding areas.
We toured the medical treatment areas for hemophilia and I was impressed at how well it seems
to operate. Many patients are now on home care for their bleeding disorders which is a huge step toward a healthier population. In the future, we hope to help them as they continue to advocate for increased access to clotting factor.
Despite some drama on the return trip home (Tony, my traveling companion lost his passport and I was forced to leave him at the last minute), the visit was really amazing and I am so glad I had the opportunity to go.
But, the twinning program lasts four years, so it is likely that I will return in the future. I look forward to it.
Here's my webalbum.