Karachi, Pakistan: Wednesday December 6, 1995: 

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When the flight left Karachi, I was surprised that we didn’t simply head west and then cut eventually back at a northwest angle to Amsterdam. But, rather, we flew almost directly north back over Lahore to the capital city of Islamabad. We stopped briefly there and then flew directly over Kabul, Afghanistan, where all the fierce fighting had recently taken place.

On the flight I experienced another outstanding serendipity. I was seated next to a distinguished gentleman in a pin‑striped, black suit. Even the plane’s crew came out of the cockpit and greeted him. I turned to him about the time we took off, extended my hand, and introduced myself. Come to find out he is one of the fifty-two-member OIS (Organization of Islamic States) group. He is also a senator in the Pakistan parliament, and in our extended conversation, it came out that he additionally was a past ambassador to Egypt. His name is Raja M. Zafar‑al‑Haq, secretary general of the World Muslim Congress.

After we had talked about Russia, the war in Afghanistan, the Muslims in Bosnia, and other issues, he wanted to know what I was doing in Pakistan, “Don’t you know you could have easily been killed in Karachi?" I told him all about Project C.U.R.E. and my trip into Andijon and Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and my Needs Assessment Study at Sandeman Provincial Hospital in Quetta. I told him that I had greatly appreciated my work in Quetta, especially with Dr. Buzdar and Dr. Zehri. I told him that I felt there was a qualitative difference that I observed in the doctors I work with around the world. Many medical institutions within countries that have been used and abused by governments of Communist dictators have been left nearly bankrupt, morally, emotionally, volitionally, and for sure, financially. A lot of doctors who were involved in those kinds of hospitals in the recent past are physically exhausted, but far worse, they have given up hope that things will ever get better. They have lost their way and have no one they could turn to.

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I told him that was where Project C. U. R. E. could come in and make such a tremendous difference. We come alongside and help by sending desperately needed medical goods … but perhaps most important, we can bring hope.

“The doctors see that, really, there is someone out there who cares about what they are going through,” I said. “Who’s to know, when all is said and done, maybe that bringing of rekindled hope is the greatest qualitative contribution that Project C.U.R.E. can ever make. Medical supplies will immediately save lives. Rekindled hope has the power to save generations.”

I told that Pakistan leader that he could, indeed, be proud of the culture of his country and the fact that in spite of centuries of hardship, his people, particularly Dr. Buzdar and Dr. Zehri and the other doctors at the Quetta hospital and medical school, had not lost hope. And in spite of the extensive needs they were currently experiencing, they were excited about what they were doing and what the future held for them. They had not lost hope.

He really appreciated what I had to tell him, and then he asked how in the world I got involved in taking Project C.U.R.E. all over the remotest parts of the world. He pushed my button. I looked at my watch and we were still a very long way from landing in Amsterdam so, I started out by telling him about my being in business and getting caught up in the addictive American philosophy of accumulating wealth and things. And I told him how one day God brought me to my senses and showed me that however much I accumulated in my journey, it would not make me a happy man. I asked God to forgive me for being such a selfish person. I obeyed God and paid a price that required giving over sixteen million dollars away, and I started over to put deals together the rest of my life that would help bring relief to God’s children all over the world.

Mr. Raja M. Zafar‑al‑Haq, the senator, ambassador, and secretary general who was on his way to hold talks on Bosnia and the Middle East, turned completely around in his seat to face me and said, “All of my life I have heard people talk about giving their life away to do good. But I had never met anyone who actually did it. It was always talk. May God bless you and give you good health to continue what you are doing for a long time. And when you know when you are returning to the capital of Islamabad, please let me know, and I will put a group of important people of Pakistan together in my home and let you tell all of them the story you have just told me. God bless you.”

Maybe there was a reason why I went to Uzbekistan and Pakistan during the closing days of 1995.

My trip to Amsterdam was long, and I was able to transfer all my excess baggage to London’s Heathrow Airport. In Amsterdam I had to change airlines from Pakistan Airlines to British Airways. Once I got from London to New York, I had to again transfer everything to United Airlines on into Denver.

By that time I was already starting on the third day of being in the same clothes and not having gone to bed (it was now December 8). But what I had told that Pakistani secretary general is true. I am so fortunate to get to do what I am doing, and indeed, I am the happiest man in the world.

Next Week: My return trip to Islamabad, Pakistan


Quetta, Pakistan: Monday, December 4: Dr. Buzdar wanted to take me out of the city to follow a valley where all the fruit orchards were located. There were natural springs that flow out of the dry dirt mountains surrounding Quetta, and the springs plus the snowmelt in the spring fill the gravel riverbeds and water the valley of the fruit trees. Apples and peaches are grown there and marketed throughout the province. Dr. Buzdar explained how beautiful the valley is in the summer months. People bring their families out and just picnic under the orchard trees to escape the desert sun in Quetta.

Another favorite family spot was Hanna Lake. It is a natural lake surrounded by dry dirt hills and mountains. Dr. Buzdar had his driver stop at one of the recreation sites, and we got out and walked for about thirty minutes. I thanked him for bringing me to the spot, but he thanked me for giving him the legitimate excuse to get away from his work. He had no other doctor to cover for him, and he literally worked days and nights in the neurosurgery department. That afternoon he really began to relax. We talked about his traveling to San Diego, California, in April for a medical convention. I told him what San Diego is like and to be sure to try some of their authentic Mexican restaurants while he is there.

We came back to the Serena Hotel to finish making plans for dinner, but when we arrived, a messenger was waiting to inform him of an emergency situation back at the hospital. The phone system in Pakistan is terrible, and there are no such things as beepers or cellular phones. So the messenger had simply been waiting for him at the hotel. Dr. Buzdar said that if he could get away, he would meet me at 8:30 p.m., but he was not sure what was in store for him.

By 9:00 he had not come, so I went to the restaurant and had some soup and fried bread for dinner. By the time I arrived back in my room, he had called and said his surgeries would not allow him to get away, but he would meet me for lunch the next day at 1:00 p.m.

Tuesday, December 5

At 9:00 a.m. Dr. Zehri came to my door, ready to take me for meetings at the Sandeman Provincial Hospital. During the night it had begun to rain. The sky was very dark, and we got drenched just going from the hotel to his car, which was waiting out front. He told me that the rain typically lasts for only two days but usually comes after the fifteenth of December. I told him I was glad it rained, and that I could be there for the two days that it would rain that year. 

The hotel complex at the Serena was very heavily guarded and fenced. Likewise, the hospital complex was very heavily posted. After a quick tour of the departments, we were ushered into the office of Mr. Zafar Isbal Qudir, secretary of the health department for the provincial government of Baluchistan. He introduced us to his two deputies, and I once again told the story of Project C.U.R.E. I quizzed them about the government’s attitude toward taxation of incoming humanitarian goods, and they assured me that all I needed to do was to get any supplies to Karachi, and from there on they had all the necessary friends to take care of everything else. 

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From Sandeman Hospital, Dr. Zehri had his driver take us to the Bolan Medical College. Almost all of the professors teach at the medical school and practice at Dr. Zehri’s hospital. The school is right now in the middle of building an adjacent 650-bed hospital, and except for the concrete structure, they are going to need everything. The medical school started in 1972, and I was totally amazed at what they have already accomplished. They have built a fine facility and have a very good medical library. When I asked them if they had any possible way to get a CD-ROM library started, they took me to the back room of the library, and the sharp, young librarian showed me the library’s computer. They have the only Internet address in all of Baluchistan Province, including all the military. The military comes over and uses their e-mail if there is an emergency. Their online server is the UN. Their address is infoc/obmcqtc/ I was really impressed and told them I might have some extra copies of Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine reference book that I could donate to them.

By the time we finished touring the medical school, it was 1:00 and time to meet Dr. Buzdar for lunch at, of all things in Pakistan, a Chinese restaurant. It was the first time I had Chinese food prepared with an overabundance of curry … but it was very good.

Following lunch Dr. Zehri had to attend an important meeting to determine the medicine purchases for 1996. Dr. Buzdar offered to show me the marketplaces of Quetta, and I asked if we could go shopping for carpets. Everyone in Baluchistan is related to everyone else … really! And Dr. Buzdar had a friend he had operated on a short while back who had promised him the best of treatment in return if he ever needed hand-woven wool carpets. So Dr. Buzdar took me to the man’s carpet shop. I purchased three carpets, and Dr. Buzdar bought a fourth to give to me as a gift. I could never have expected to get such quality carpets at such a price. Now I have an entirely new problem—how am I to get about three hundred pounds of carpet back to Denver? Oh well, I will work on that problem tomorrow.

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Later in the evening, Dr. Zehri came by the hotel and brought me a wonderful gift to take to Anna Marie. He also brought with him a copy of his passport. We had talked at lunch about my helping him secure a visa to the USA so that he could travel with Dr. Buzdar to San Diego in the summer to attend a medical meeting. He had never had a visa to the USA and was afraid that he would probably never get one. I had said that I would be happy to invite him and sponsor him by claiming that I needed him in the USA to check and approve of the medical items we were donating to Pakistan. I felt it a compliment that he would ask me to help him.

After Dr. Zehri left the hotel, Dr. Buzdar called and said he had just completed his surgery schedule and asked if I was still up and wanted to get a cup of coffee. We met, and he was concerned about making sure I had no problem getting all the luggage on Pakistan International Airlines. Dr. Buzdar is a close personal friend of the manager of the Quetta Airport and also a close friend of Pakistan Airlines’ regional supervisor. We talked over coffee until after 11:00 p.m. in the hotel lobby, and he left me saying he would be by at 10:30 a.m. to personally see to it that everything went well.
Wednesday, December 6

The next morning the Serena Hotel was swarming with military ruffians. It was still raining, and the front parking courtyard was jammed with military vehicles loaded with soaking-wet tents and army gear. The troops seemed to be some kind of special-forces group, all of them wearing red-and-white-checkered and black-and-white-checkered head wear like Yasser Arafat. Some had camouflage pants and shirts, but most were dressed in long white tunics.

I was the only one who even slightly resembled European descent in the whole restaurant. My guess is that they were high mucky-mucks who had just returned from some raid mission with the Taliban forces up in Afghanistan. Needless to say, I was quite respectful and careful that I didn’t do anything that might irritate them—like singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Quetta is a city that is not equipped to handle rain. Raining two days in a row left the city a giant mud puddle. The open sewers had all backed up, and the streets were running with trash and debris. The cars had a rough time even getting down the streets, but the funniest sights were the little motorized rickshaws that would almost disappear out of sight when they would drop into a deep, unforeseen pothole hidden by the high water.

But the rain had let up by the time Dr. Buzdar arrived to pick me up at the hotel. In fact, the haze had lifted, and I could see snow capping the brown, barren mountains surrounding the city. Actually, it was all quite pleasant. There was a freshness to the valley, as if it had just experienced a once‑a‑year bath. Dr. Buzdar’s driver loaded my prize carpets into the car, which scarcely left room enough for the three of us to manage a ride to the airport. There, to his word, Dr. Buzdar had me prechecked in, and they whisked my things through with VIP service. We had an opportunity to sit and summarize things before I left. He gave me a copy of a letter he had already sent to his neurosurgeon friend in Minnesota in the USA telling him of me and requesting that he try to locate the funds needed for shipping the containers to Quetta.

The Pakistan International Airline flight left about noon, and I headed for Karachi. Everyone had warned me that Karachi is a city where one needs to be extremely careful. Lots of people from India had migrated there, as well as many refugees from the Afghanistan war. Karachi is a big and dirty seaport city with lots of desperate folks. Kidnappings and murder rates are very high. No American should travel there alone. I was pleasantly impressed with the airport, however. It was quite large and clean and well guarded, and lots of porters were there, eager to do anything for a few rupees.

I stayed quiet within the airport during my transfer. I was not so fortunate with my extra baggage at Karachi. Without a Dr. Buzdar there, Pakistan Airlines charged me $240 for the additional two pieces I had.

Next Week: Perhaps,  I discovered the real reason for my trip to Pakistan.

PAKISTAN JOURNAL - 1995 (Part 1)

NOTE TO READER: The intriguing story that I want to share with you about our involvement in the dangerous country of Pakistan weaves its way through two separate international assessment trips. One trip began in late 1995 with my busy itinerary of meetings in New York City, then on to Tashkent and Andijon, Uzbekistan, then finishing the trip in northern Pakistan. The other journal covers the return trip to Pakistan in March 1996. I will jump into the adventure here as I was leaving Uzbekistan and heading for Islamabad, the capitol of Pakistan.

Islamabad, Pakistan: Saturday, December 2, 1995: I was up early. Ted and I walked to a main street in Andijon and caught a taxi out to the airport, where I caught another Russian Yak-40 jet  back to Tashkent. This time, upon my arrival, Peter was there to meet me. We caught lunch from the street vendors, and I prayed a lot that I wouldn’t ingest anything bad from the street food into my system. We had some additional meetings with Guy and his wife and eventually made our way back to the airport for my trip on to Islamabad, Pakistan. On that flight I had a window seat and a great view as we flew south over Tajikistan and Afghanistan into Islamabad. 

Upon landing in Islamabad, a most incredible thing happened. I cleared passport control, customs, and security and went to the front of the airport to look for a Marriott bus to catch a ride to the hotel. About that time another man came up also inquiring about the hotel bus. He was just flying in from China to Islamabad. The director said that it would be another forty-five minutes before the bus returned. I told the guy that I was also headed for the Marriott, and I would split the expense of a taxi with him so we wouldn’t have to wait around in the dark. When we got into the taxi, I introduced myself and said I was from Colorado in the USA.

He looked at me kind of funny and asked, “What part of Colorado?”

 I told him Evergreen, and he laughed and said he was from Boulder. We couldn’t believe it. What would those odds be? Then I began to understand some working of providence. He quizzed me extensively about Project C.U.R.E. and told me he also had homes in Shanghai, China, and Hong Kong. I asked him what in the world he did. He reluctantly told me that he was Marcus W. Brauchli, China bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Asia Wall Street Journal. But then he changed the subject quickly and continued his inquiry of Project C.U.R.E.

He asked, “Has anyone ever written this up?”

I said that only some of the local folks had done some things.

“This is a great twist of goodwill in business instead of all the same hard stuff,” he replied. “Would you mind if I did a story on Project C.U.R.E.? Who knows, it just might help you get your needed supplies.”

Two guys in a cab in Islamabad on a dark December night, both from Colorado—much more than coincidence!

Marcus insisted on getting the whole taxi fare, and I made him promise that I could buy lunch sometime over the Christmas holidays when he came to visit Project C.U.R.E. and see the warehouse. I went to sleep with sugarplums dancing in my head. I’ve always wanted Project C. U. R. E. to keep a low profile and just do its work. But there might be some providentially arranged exposure coming at a very strategic time.

Sunday, December 3

Sunday morning I dressed and went down to breakfast at the hotel. The Marriott in Islamabad is really nice. My mind kept making the comparison between the Andijon bathhouse procedure and the nice warm shower at the Islamabad Marriott.

I went to the US embassy, checked in, and told them why I was there and where I could be reached for any messages or emergencies.

When I realized that my flight was due to take off at 11:00 a.m. instead of 1:30 p.m., I about panicked. I had not packed or checked out of the hotel, and it was already past 10:00. While I was paying my bill on my way out of the hotel, I asked the cashier how long it took by taxi to get to the airport.

He said, “At least thirty minutes, perhaps longer if there is heavy traffic.”

The next Marriott bus did not leave the hotel until noon. I then asked him if he would please contact the Quetta Serena Hotel and make sure I had a reservation and to have the hotel bus please pick me up at the airport. He assured me that he would take care of everything.

I ran out the hotel door and down the block, where the taxicabs were stationed. I had to haggle the price with several different drivers who wanted thirty dollars to take me to the airport. While I was still walking toward their taxis, I said I would pay fifteen. Finally I got one who said he would do it for twenty. I agreed to that only if he would get me to the departure gate in twenty minutes or less. Guess what! The thrill of the fast ride was well worth the twenty dollars, even if the ride would have just been for fun. He pulled up in front of the departure gate at seven minutes till 11:00. He earned his twenty dollars.

When I ran inside the airport, fortunately there were no longer any lines, and I sailed through the check stations and got to the gate just in time. If I had had all the grief I encountered at the Andijon or Tashkent airports, I would never have made it.

One scene I do remember very well, even though the taxi driver was flying fast, was that of the recently bombed-out Egyptian embassy located just a few blocks from the US embassy in Islamabad. Some terrorists had run a small truck totally loaded with explosives into the Egyptian embassy just a few days earlier. The only thing that was left was a crater in the ground where the embassy had stood. I don’t remember how many people were killed in the explosion. I thought, Some of these foreign places, like Pakistan, are getting almost as violent and uncontrolled as terrorist America.

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On the plane I had a whole row to myself, so I was free to slide over and get a view out the window for the flight. Quetta is west and somewhat north of Islamabad. There is nothing to be seen but bleak, barren, and dry mountain ranges and desert valleys in that part of Pakistan. Why, for centuries, people had fought for this territory was beyond me. The entire border between Afghanistan and Pakistan appears to be equally as desolate. We flew between two brown mountain ranges to where the rocky valley widened out, and behold … there was the city of Quetta. It is a city with a population of several million, including some of the nearby region, and even from the air as we landed, I could see that it consists, to a great extent, of military bases and ammunition bunkers and vehicles. That certainly confirmed all I had heard about it being a strategic military border town.

Inside the airport terminal I was met by a doctor even before my luggage had cleared through. He was very friendly and escorted me out to where a driver and car were waiting to take me to the Serena Hotel. We had a short time to get acquainted from the airport to the hotel. He came into the hotel and waited to make sure I got checked in all right. Then he left me in my room and said he would be back at 1:30 for a meeting.

Sure enough, at 1:30 p.m. Dr. Abdul Kasi came back and brought with him Dr. Shafi Mohammed Zehri, the medical superintendent of the Sandeman Provincial Hospital. They came into the room, and we talked for about an hour. When they left, they said they would return for dinner in the evening.

I thought dinnertime would be somewhere between 6:00 and 8:00. By 8:30 I figured that I must not have understood correctly, so I went down to the restaurant dining room and had a lovely dinner. I returned to my room by 9:20 and had taken some of my clothes off and begun to read a book, when a knock came on the door. It was Dr. Munir Abdul Kasi, who, by the way, is the resident medical officer general at the hospital. This time he brought with him Dr. Ad Sikander Riaz, head of the Department of Community Medicine at the Bolan Medical College. They were ready to go eat. I informed them that I had misunderstood the time and that I had already eaten. So we stayed and talked in my room. Dr. Riaz started out quite on the offensive saying that he never had heard of Project C.U.R.E. I told him that certainly didn’t surprise me, but I was happy he had the opportunity of hearing of us now.

After about one and a half hours, they were absolutely in awe of what Project C.U.R.E. is doing around the world and the possibilities of working together in the future. They told me that both of them were required to fly to Islamabad for medical meetings the next two days, and they didn’t want to miss the chance of getting acquainted. When they left they told me that there was a big meeting at the hospital planned for 10:00 a.m., and that Dr. Zehri would have someone pick me up about 9:45.

Monday, December 4

The next morning Dr. Zehri himself came with his driver to escort me to the Sandeman Provincial Hospital. The meeting was held in Dr. Zehri’s office, and there were five doctors who met with me, plus several others who slipped in and out during the meeting. Those present included Dr. Shafi Zehri, of course; Dr. Mohammed Rafique, pediatrics department; Dr. Niaz Mohammad Nasir, professor of anesthesiology at Bolan Medical College as well as Sandeman Hospital; Dr. Hamaadullah Buzdar, head of the neurosurgery department at Sandeman Hospital; and Dr. Roohullah M. Qazi, deputy medical superintendent. They also wanted to know all about Project C.U.R.E. and me, so I decided to give them both barrels. I told them my story about business, writing my book What’cha Gonna Do with What’Cha Got?, doing economic consulting, beginning to ship medical goods into Brazil, and so forth. I also told them that I promised God I wanted to do business the rest of my life that would help other people who were in need rather than becoming richer myself. I explained where we were presently shipping and how much we had shipped just this year. I told them that I considered the entire endeavor a miracle, and that I was the happiest man alive because I had been given the opportunity to be a part of helping people around the world.

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We then got into dealing with filling out the necessary pages of the Needs Assessment Study that I had brought along. All of the doctors were extremely respectful, and Dr. Nasir went into quite a lengthy time of sharing that he had studied the Christian Bible as well as the Muslim Koran, and that what I was doing was helping over eighteen million people who had no money. I let them know how glad I was to have been able to come to Quetta and get acquainted with them. I told them that I would not have been able to come to their hospital had it not been for my scheduled trip to Andijon and Tashkent, Uzbekistan. I felt that it was providential that I had come. They all quickly agreed.

Dr. Zehri and Dr. Buzdar then took me to lunch at the Serena Hotel. We talked about their families and mine. Dr. Zehri has five children. The oldest two are fourteen and eleven. Dr. Buzdar has traveled some for medical conventions. He has been to Detroit; Miami; Seoul, Korea; and Thailand and has a very good friend who used to be his professor in neurosurgery and now lives in Hamburg, Germany. Dr. Zehri had to attend some meetings after lunch, but Dr. Buzdar canceled his surgeries and had his driver take me around the Quetta area.

Quetta is a huge military establishment, and we drove past many installations, base operations, and training areas. The military staff college is located there, so all military staff eventually make their way to Quetta to be trained. In the past, Quetta hospitals and clinics had to take care of many war casualties from the border war in Afghanistan.

Next Week: Healthcare in the middle of danger  


My weary eyes have seen too much war and genocide, too much evil manipulation and dying. I have taken my turn at the entrance of the Sandeman Provincial Hospital in Quetta, Pakistan, near the border of Afghanistan, where I’ve watched hundreds of injured and sick line up on
the sidewalks, with family members holding the heads of the wounded in their laps and intravenous contraptions in their hands. There was simply no more room for the injured in the hospital. 

I’ve listened to the words of the Marxist leaders in Africa, who were routing the frightened people from their villages to the newly constructed refugee camps: “You don’t have to kill all these fish. You just have to get them to the lake and then drain the lake.” 

I stood in the neighboring country of Uganda as the Rwandan radio stations screamed, “Pick up the machetes now! We will have jobs, power, wealth, and homes as soon as every Tutsi in our blessed homeland is dead!” 

I was born before the United States became involved in World War II, and I was in grade school when the war ended. As kids, my friends and I spent our time after school wheeling around the neighborhood on our bikes, looking for discarded gum wrappers and foil candy wrappers. We’d carefully peel the aluminum foil from the paper part of the wrappers  and put the foil into rolled balls of aluminum. Then we’d take them with us  to school, where contests were held to see who could collect the largest ball of “tinfoil.” What we collected would be turned over to the US military to build “peace machines” so that we could win the war. 

After the war was over, we heard about the construction of a huge building in New York City called the United Nations. We were promised that there would never be another war again. Everyone who had a dispute would simply come to the United Nations, discuss their problems, and agree on a proper solution. Instead of collecting any more tinfoil, we put our efforts toward collecting “buffalo nickels,” and our class sent them to New York City to build the magnificent building with a flag of every country in the world waving out front. It seemed as if we sent a lot of money, but we knew it would be worth it to always have peace. 

It was hoped that peace would be a gradual process of changing people’s opinions, slowly learning how to tear down old barriers, and quietly constructing new ways of thinking. It was hoped that the power of love would overcome the love of power, and peace would reign everywhere for the rest of time. People said that the old way of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (Exodus 21:24) was really ridiculous, because the end result would be that everybody would end up blind and toothless. So peace was better.

Once we were informed that peace now resided in the big building in New York City, we began asking ourselves where war resided . . . and what made it so awful and terrible? Was it possible that the awfulness lived inside us? Was it likely that war really grew out of the desire of certain individuals to gain an advantage at the expense of others? Had we forgotten the desire to make others in our world better off?

We all watched the experiment of the UN take place in New York City. Albert Einstein reminded us, “Every kind of peaceful cooperation among men is primarily based on mutual trust and only secondarily on institutions such as courts of justice and police.” There seemed to be a certain futility in thinking that the sheep could talk about peace with the wolves. Peace had to be more than just the “absence of war,” as Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza once said. It had to be “a virtue, a state of mind,” a spirit of kindness, justice, and righteousness on this earth.

In a speech to Congress on December 3, 1906, Teddy Roosevelt stated that “peace is normally a great good, and normally it coincides with righteousness, but it is righteousness and not peace which should bind the conscience of a nation as it should bind the conscience of an individual; and neither a nation nor an individual can surrender conscience to another’s keeping.” That’s why the slogan “peace at any price” won’t work.

I’ve discovered while observing human nature in more than 150 countries around the world that this doctrine of “peace at any price” has done more mischief than any other espousal afloat. It has promoted more wars and strife than any of the notorious and ruthless conquerors. It has undermined and nearly destroyed the dignity and equilibrium necessary to the welfare and liberties of the world’s fragile cultures. If you can’t find peace within yourself, you’ll be frustrated looking for it elsewhere. It’s always good to remember that peace won by compromise of principles will always be a short-lived solution. 

Before her death, Mother Teresa pointed out, “Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on, so that children have very little time for their parents. Parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the disruption of peace of the world.”

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Thankfully that dysfunctional cycle can be reversed. You can find and experience peace within yourself and your family, and you can become a person who lives at peace with others. That inner peace can take root as you effectively embrace it regardless of all the dysfunctional circumstances around you. You will find the effects of that peace multiplying exponentially in your own life as you experience the joy of offering that peace to others. Blessed are the peacemakers.

Probably the most difficult thing you’ll experience as you embrace and practice your new life of inner peace is readjusting your heart and head in order to calmly and gratefully accept the gift of peace that God wants to give you. I like to think of it as an attitude of spiritual hospitality. As Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do let them not be afraid” (John 14:27).

I am bone-tired of seeing and hearing the cacophony of strife and conflict throughout this otherwise resplendent world, and I’ve concluded that to be at rest with God is to experience true peace. It comes from the inside and alters all things on the outside. The world is a beautiful place, and we can do something positive about the discord. 

My prayer for your future is that you won’t lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, but that a calm spirit will trump every ounce of disquietude, even though your whole world may seem to turn upside down. Let your heart reach out to others in love, warmth, and encouragement and expect God’s peace to surround and protect you. Be assured that whatever happens to you is less significant than what happens within you!  


GEORGIA JOURNAL - 2002 (Part 4)

Tbilisi, Georgia: Saturday, April 6, 2002: Following my speech many of the students stood and applauded. Others sat and clapped almost as if they were stunned having never heard anything like that before. Many students came up quickly to me to shake my hand and tell me how they were challenged by the new concept of the “compassionate capitalist.”
Once the students emptied out the lecture hall, we made a quick dash for the office of the president (called rector) of Georgia Technological University.  He had invited us to his office to talk about our plans to work with the University.  He appreciated our willingness to help the University and pledged to help out with influence and contacts wherever needed and where possible.
Dr. Raul Kuprava, chairman of the department of biomedical technology engineering, had become a good friend in the very short time we had been in Tbilisi.  He was like a family member of the rest of the clan and had joined us at several different meals.  Irina, one of the twin sisters, was a professor of computers in Dr. Kuprava’s department.  We were all anxious to see their department and talk about a plan that seemed to be forming by the hour since we had arrived in Tbilisi.  

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Dr. Kuprava’s department at Georgia Technological University was the only place in Eastern Europe where students were trained to install, repair, and maintain pieces of medical equipment.  That service was non-existent in most developing countries.  The only pieces of medical equipment on which the students had to work were old obsolete pieces of Russian-made junk.
When Dr. Archil had verbalized at dinner two nights before that they wanted to start an official NGO organization of Project C.U.R.E. in Georgia, our minds all began to work in high gear.  I suggested that perhaps Project C.U.R.E. could send a partial container load of pieces of medical equipment directly from our warehouse to Tbilisi.  Instead of our Denver biomed volunteers spending time on checking out the equipment we could ship the equipment to Dr. Kuprava’s students to check out.  It would save the Denver people some time and would give the University students a great opportunity to become familiar with pieces of American equipment.
Once the students had checked out the pieces of equipment, Project C.U.R.E./Georgia could place the equipment in targeted medical facilities throughout Georgia.  They would then be able to maintain or repair the equipment at the different institutions in the country.
When the question came up as to how they would fund Project C.U.R.E. /Georgia, it was suggested that the pieces of medical equipment could be placed in the hospitals and clinics on a very minimal lease basis.  Payment would be determined by either a certain period of time or a certain amount per procedural use.  Each time the hospital or clinic charged a patient for a procedure on the machine a portion of that fee would flow to the organization and even some could go to the students for an ongoing maintenance agreement.  It was such a unique situation to see an organization actually training students to be biomed techs in the old Soviet Union.  We had lots to talk about.
Across the University campus there was a medical clinic that served the University students, local community, and a neighborhood of refugees.  Dr. Manana Nasidze, who was Dr. Nicholas’ wife, worked regularly at the clinic as an optometrist.  Project C.U.R.E. had been requested to do a complete needs assessment at the University clinic.  In a nutshell … they needed everything.
We had one last assignment on our list of appointments for Saturday, which was to finish another needs assessment study at the Border Guard Hospital in Tbilisi.  It was already 6:30 p.m.
While the Russian Army occupied Georgia until 1991 they maintained a separate military hospital in Tbilisi.  When they pulled out and went back to Moscow they totally stripped the hospital facility and even used their rifles to shoot out the windows thinking that it would keep the Georgians from being able to use the facility after they were gone.
However, a sharp young Georgian doctor, Dr. Guarm Amiridze, received permission to try to refurbish the facility and make it into a hospital to serve the Border Guard, their families, “high mountain tribe’s people,” and poor refugees living within Tbilisi.  He had already done a marvelous job considering that he had absolutely nothing with which to work.  As we toured the hospital he explained the Border Guard was not part of the regular Georgian military and did not have any medical benefits.  He wanted to help change that, and I promised him that Project C.U.R.E. wanted to help him see his dream come true.
That night we went to Dr. Marina and Dr. Nicholas’ house for Katchapuri and dinner.  The whole family was together again.  We talked and ate again until 11:30 p.m.  What could the possibilities be of Project C.U.R.E. in the country of Georgia?  It was raining and miserably cold as we made our way back to our flat and once again climbed the dark stairwell to the fifth floor.
Sunday, April 7
Dr. Nicholas and Dr. Marina wanted to take me to the open antique market that morning in Tbilisi.  It was so rainy and cold we decided to only stay for a very short time.  I opted to stay at the flat and write until about 1 p.m. when a radio show host came to the flat to do an interview with Jim Marlin and me.  Word had gotten out that international Rotary had teamed up with the local Rotary group of Tbilisi to bring Project C.U.R.E. to Georgia to aid the medical delivery system.  The reporter represented Main Radio of Georgia and was the same station where Georgia and all the surrounding countries heard “Voice of America” programs.  She told us after the interview that the program would be aired the next day between 12 and 1 p.m.

Monday, April 8
We were at the ministry of finance offices discussing Project C.U.R.E.’s desire to ship into Georgia without any taxes, duties, or fees assessed to the donated medical goods.  Jamze Machavariani, the woman in charge, really loved Project C.U.R.E.  Her brother was a Georgian doctor, and before her stint at the ministry of finance, she had headed up the NGO called the Children’s Foundation of Georgia.  She was happy to cooperate with us and was so very appreciative that we would come to the department first in an effort to establish a working relationship.  She assured me that there would be no problem getting our medical goods in as well as being approved for NGO status in Georgia.
Dr. Archil had brought his portable radio with him and the lady was very impressed with hearing the interview while in her office.  It was a good meeting. 

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Next on our Monday agenda was to meet with the ministry of health and get their approval and blessing.  Dr. Gudashavri was very astute and knowledgeable.  She liked very much what she heard and welcomed our efforts in Georgia.  She agreed that the ministry of health would be available to work with us in any way.
Jim and I invited the whole extended family to dinner Monday night at a lovely restaurant along the river in the old city of Tbilisi.  On our way to dinner we made one last stop at an orphanage where 100 deaf, orphaned children were housed.  It was quite an emotional encounter.  The children put on a quick performance for us.  Colorado Rotary had given money last year to put a new roof on the orphanage. 

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The trip to Tbilisi had been another whirlwind trip, but so much had been accomplished in such a short time.  We had been able, with God’s help and direction, to bring together the ministry of health, the ministry of finance, the Georgian customs department, international Rotary, Project C.U.R.E., seven or eight medical institutions, two universities, and one of Georgia’s most educated and cultured families … all for the express purpose of extending love, concern, and tangible items of health care to needy people of the old Soviet Union.
I was almost ashamed of myself for having had feelings of reluctance to go back to the old historic country of Georgia.  They were so needy and so appreciative of Project C.U.R.E.’s willingness to aid and help.  I really believed that we could make a difference in the old Republic of Georgia.

GEORGIA JOURNAL - 2002 (Part 3)

Tbilisi, Georgia: Friday, April 5, 2002: Friday morning, Dr. Marlin and I were picked up at our flat and driven to our first needs assessment at the Emergency Cardiology Center at Tbilisi.  As we entered through the front doors of the gray, drab cement building I thought to myself, “I think I’ve been here . . . maybe it was in a dream.”  After 15 years of needs assessments in developing countries throughout the world, the old hospitals begin to blur a bit into a class of sameness.
Archil spoke to the white-cloaked doctor in charge who was running pell-mell with his stethoscope dangling from around his neck.  He walked over to me and grunted something in Georgian and took off like a shot motioning us to keep up with him.  He walked to one ward, flung open the door and made a sweeping gesture toward the patients.  Without slowing in motion he walked to a double occupancy room where he copied his swinging the door and sweeping of his hand.
At that point I reached out and took hold of his forearm and said, “No!  I am wasting your time and you are wasting my time.  I want to speak for 15 minutes to the director of the hospital and after that be taken on an appropriate tour so that I can efficiently determine the specific areas of this hospital where Project C.U.R.E. can assist.”  He stopped dead in his tracks and his stethoscope flopped limply down to his chest.
Within about four minutes I was ushered into the director’s office where we had a great interview with the director, Dr. Simon Kapanadze, and the chief of the cardio surgery department, Dr. Zriad Bakhutashvili. The rude doctor we had first encountered had completely disappeared by then. Later, as we toured the new heart cauterization laboratory, Dr. Alexander Aladashvili came rushing across the room to greet me.  “I remember you and the good work you have done for our department in the past.  It was Project C.U.R.E. who sent us wonderful cardiology supplies about three years ago when we so desperately needed them.  Thank you a hundred times for your help!”  I quickly recalled that on one of my recent trips to Georgia I had been specifically invited to that department to help them and we had included the materials in a cargo container destined for quite another hospital.  That was a good way to get the day started.

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From the cardiology center we quickly drove to the expert facility of the radiology diagnosis center of the Georgia State University.  Dr. Fridon Todua was doing a remarkable job of assembling an outstanding center for Georgia.  His plan was for Project C.U.R.E. to help them by sending supplies to them for their procedures in order to keep the costs down for the Georgian patients.
On the way to our next appointment I had our driver stop at an Internet cyber hole-in-the-wall to try to check my e-mail messages from home and to send a short message to Anna Marie.  Their equipment was so slow and their phone lines so bad that I finally gave up without making any connections.
One of our hosts, Dr. Nicholas Nasidze, who regularly worked for International Red Cross and his wife, Dr. Manana who worked as an ophthalmologist, had donated a lot of their time to the Georgian Diabetes Education and Information Center in Tbilisi.  Our next appointment was to visit their work with diabetics, especially children.  Their request was for Project C.U.R.E. to help them secure test strips, needles, and other supplies, plus help in procuring a simple laboratory set-up with microscope, test tubes, and simple testing equipment.  They also requested picture posters and updated educational materials that they could translate into the Georgian language.
Our follow-up meeting with the executive board of the Rotary Club went extremely well and we walked away with all the necessary paperwork completed to activate the shipping process.  Project C.U.R.E. would supply up to $1 million worth of medical goods into Georgia and the Rotary groups would cover the cost of shipping. 

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Between that appointment and our scheduled dinner, we had time to explore the “old town” of Tbilisi and visit one of their orthodox Christian churches that was built in the sixth century A.D.
At dinner Dr. Archil and Dr. Nicholous asked many, many questions about Project C.U.R.E. and its mission.  Finally, Archil said, “Well, we’ve talked it over here and we are so impressed with Project C.U.R.E. and your philosophy of being generous in what you’re doing around the world that we want to start a ‘Project C.U.R.E./ Georgia.’  We want to be a part of this great thing.”  Of course, that brought on a flood of discussion and, again, we talked until about midnight.
On our way back to the flat, Archil asked if both Jim and I would consent to speaking to the students the next day who were enrolled in the master’s degree program at Georgia Technological University.  “Jim Jackson, I want you to tell them about Project C.U.R.E. and the ideas of being humanitarian.”  We agreed.
Saturday, April 6
Twenty-two thousand students attended Georgia Tech University in Tbilisi, and there were 4,000 faculty and staff.  It was no small institution.  I had previously had the honor of being asked to speak at the University of Ukraine in Kiev, the University of Armenia in Yerevan, the Medical University of Brazil in Campinas, and the Royal College of Physicians in London, and now they had asked me to share a bit at the Georgia Tech University in Tbilisi.
We were ushered into the large lecture hall.  Soon the students began filing in.  Dr. Marlin was introduced first and spoke about the communists’ old way of determining economic market price as opposed to the way market prices were determined according to supply and demand in a free market economy.  He did a fine job and it beautifully set the stage for what I wanted to say.
Because only about 60% of the students were proficient in English, there was a translator provided for us.  When I got up to speak I announced my lecture subject, “I want to talk to you today about the ‘economics of compassion’.”  I went on to explain:
“I am a capitalist and a very successful capitalist.  But I am a capitalist so that I can be a more successful humanitarian.  You have no doubt been told in your past that capitalism was bad because it was selfish and greedy.  Let’s explore today some comparisons and some results. I am a lifelong observer and I want to share with you what I have observed.
In the mid-1700s Adam Smith proposed economic theories that included elements of freedom of decision, economic growth, division of labor, free market movement, self-determination, and minimal government intervention.  About 100 years later Karl Marx proposed that Adam Smith was wrong.  In order for a society to be successful Marx held that the economy needed to be controlled at the top by the politburo and subsequently determined by intelligent people who knew what was best for the society.  Otherwise, class struggles would continue between the “haves” and the “have nots.”  The only fair thing, according to Marx, was to take from those who “have” and redistribute to those who “have not,” then there would be peace and equality.
It was a case of free, creative compassion vs. controlled and arbitrary distribution.  Now we have gone another 150 years.  The experiments have had opportunity to run their course and today we can observe, as history, the results of the contest of ideas.
One concept, when having run its course, ended in bankruptcy, poverty, and misery.  The other enabled society to dip into a wellspring of resources to cure not only its own national ills but to reach out and be more compassionate than any other civilization in history.
The results had taken place in our own lifetime and we could observe and draw our conclusions.  You see, ideas have consequences.  Theories and their results find their way into the pages of irrefutable history.  We can judge for ourselves.
I am a capitalist today because it allows and enables me to be successfully compassionate.  I have the opportunity to employ theories and principles that can make the lives of others better.
A week ago I was in India assessing the results of some natural disasters.  In the state of Gujarat an earthquake of a magnitude of 7.7 on the Richter scale killed 30,000 people in about two minutes.  Everything was left in devastation.
I also traveled to the eastern part of India, in the state of Orissa, where some 20,000 people were swept into the Bay of Bengal by a super cyclone.  Who went to meet the needs of the disaster victims?  It was the compassionate capitalists not the bankrupt communists.
Ask yourself:  Which system became more compassionate as the experience progressed?  Did communism?  No, as control expanded so did graft and corruption.  In the final stages there was more greed, selfishness, and class separation between the powerful and the impoverished than ever dreamed.  The military establishment once again became the czars, the very ones against whom they were trying to revolt.
Free market entrepreneurialism has never had a free chance to operate.  But even to the limited degree to which it has been allowed to operate, the results have been astounding.  It has enabled people to generously express their ideals of compassion.  There has never been anything like it in history.
I believe that, built into us, is the need to help one another, as well as the need for helping ourselves.  We would never be truly fulfilled and happy unless we purposefully included the element of compassion into our economic process of capitalism.  But capitalism and compassion are not elements in diametric opposition, as we are often told.  Rather, they are concepts of compatibility.  One strengthens and fulfills the other and makes it possible in a viable and sustained way to give generously to the needs of others.  It is not through controlled direction but through industrial incentive and fulfillment.
When I was a little boy I determined to become a millionaire, and indeed I did become a millionaire many times over.  But I discovered that the pursuit and accumulation of goods did not bring happiness and fulfillment in and of itself.  I have observed that you could never accumulate quite enough to make you fulfilled and happy.
One day I asked God to change me, committing that I would never again use my talents and experience to accumulate wealth just for myself.  My wife and I decided to give our accumulation away, start over, and see if we could get it right the next time.
By still employing the mindset and principles of capitalism and growth and individual expression, but tying it all to the element of compassion, we have experienced 30 years of wonderful fulfillment and worth.  The results of the experiment culminated in part in an entity called Project C.U.R.E. where we collect millions of dollars worth of medical supplies and pieces of medical equipment and donate them to the neediest around the world.  Presently, we have shipped into 89 different countries around the world and just this year alone Project C.U.R.E. will donate somewhere around $20 million worth of goods to the needy.
I know what you are hearing sounds strange and unusual, but here at the university I present the concept to you for your consideration.  You need to think about the concept of “compassionate capitalism.”
I challenge you today to become aggressive in fulfilling all your growth and potential, and accumulate skills and understanding of free market enterprise concepts and entrepreneurialism.  Become excellent.  Become the best capitalists possible.  But do it not for self-accumulation and aggrandizement and selfish consumption, but for the greater good of others around you who are less fortunate.  Allow the principles to work for the benefit of you and others around you.  Do that and Georgia will blossom like a rose in a fertile garden.
I hope you have heard something very different today and I hope you will never forget the words of the happiest man in the world.”
Next Week: Developing biomed technicians in Georgia

GEORGIA JOURNAL - 2002 (Part 2)

Tbilisi, Georgia: April 4, 2002: Tomaz had been quite proud of his recent purchase as he showed us how his new showerhead worked the night before.  Georgian houses didn’t usually have hot running water, but his did!  There was a white plastic pipe running up the wall along the back side of the bathtub.  An electrical cord attached directly to the showerhead.  With a pull on the nubbin in the center of the showerhead, electricity heated a little coil inside of it.  At the top of the bathtub’s single faucet fixture was a hose that carried water from the spigot up to the plastic showerhead.  As the water coursed over the electrical coil it was heated to a tepid temperature and released to sprinkle over my body.
I closed the door to the wash closet behind me and stood for a while looking at the plastic contraption.  Was I really crazy enough to get inside that bathtub, put my feet down in two inches of water and have a Ruskie made gizmo pour water over my body when the water was directly connected to, not 110 volts like American electricity sources, but 220 volts of European electricity?  I was aware of how you spelled “electrocute” but had no desire to get zapped or fried just to prove an electrical engineering theory.
But after a while, the desire to feel the warm sprinkling water over my travel-worn body won out, and I gingerly hunched myself into the tub and under the supercharged plastic showerhead.
For breakfast, Irina and Marina fixed us fresh Katchapuri and black tea, (in fact, I believe I had Katchapuri for each meal I ate while in Tbilisi).  The Katchapuri was like a six-inch cheese pizza with a second thin crust cooked over the top of the cheese as well.  They felt it their Georgian obligation to get us rested up from jet travel on Thursday so that we would be fit and ready to go for the next week of meetings.
While we recuperated, the women suggested that we pay a visit to the state museum of antiquities and treasures.  I told them that I was eager to go but was surprised that Stalin had not stolen all of Georgia’s goodies while he was dictator. 

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“We have been trying to become capitalists since we became independent from the Russians,” Marina explained to me.  “Archil and I now own a small market close to our apartment.  It’s not much, or like you have in America, but we are trying.”
“Can we go to your market on our way home?”  I asked, “I would very much like to see what you are doing.”  The little store was situated on the main level of an old communist, bloc-house apartment building.  Inside, they had built shelves and stocked the store with a wide variety of items ranging from stacks of unwrapped loaves of round bread, cheese, toys for kids, canned meat, kitchen utensils, and soda pop.  The specialty seemed to be the back display counter filled with freshly baked pastries and a juice dispenser filled with vodka.  I was surprised with how busy the little market was while we were there.  “Marina, I am proud of you.  This is the kind of thing that more Georgians will have to do in order for Georgia to successfully change from communist thinking to the free market.  You are now a successful ‘entrepreneur’.”  Both women beamed with delight.
At 2:30 p.m. we met up with Archil.  He had finished teaching his classes at the university and would go with us to an appointment he had set with the customs people.  “Sandros” would go with us to translate into English.
Dr. Manana Nasidze was married to Dr. Nicholas Nasidze.  Manana was the younger sister of the twins, Marina and Irina.  Sandros was the oldest son of Manana and Nicholas, and was finishing his university training at Georgia State University.  Three years earlier he had been chosen to become a Rotary Club exchange student and had traveled to Arizona, where he studied for a year and graduated from Lake Havasu City High School.  Like everyone else we had met on the trip, Sandros was a sharp and intelligent Georgian.  I was confident that he would do just fine as a translator.
The controller and his deputy were very cordial toward us.  They told us that they fully respected anything where Dr. Archil Samadashvili was a part.  I explained what we wanted to get done in preparation for sending loads of donated medical goods into Georgia. I emphasized that we wanted to work with their department and that we would never engage in anything that would violate their wishes and policies.  I explained that before a shipment would be sent Project C.U.R.E. would send an inventory list to them, to the finance minister and to the minister of health.  They could review the proposed inventory and if they found anything which did not meet with their approval to be shipped into their country, they would have an opportunity to strike through the item listing, initial it, and then return the corrected inventory list to Project C.U.R.E.  Only upon receiving the approved list would we load the shipment and send it to Georgia.  But we would fully expect that when the shipment arrived at the border there would be no conflict or hassle since it had already been pre-approved.
“We wish everyone would work their business with us like you are doing.  Most people and organizations just send things and then try to push them through us.  We now know the face of Project C.U.R.E. and we assure you that there will be no problem with getting your medical goods into Georgia.”
“On our way to the next meeting," Archil told us as we got into his little HNBA (Neva in English) car manufactured in Russia, “I want to introduce you to another new Georgian entrepreneur.  He too is trying very hard to become a capitalist.”
We drove through an old industrial complex that had been run by the communist state.  All of the factories had been abandoned and the facilities were in bad disrepair from neglect of the previous 20 years of communist rule.  Through the rusty gates of one complex we drove up to the open shipping entrance of the main building.  Rusty, junked pieces of machinery sat around everywhere.  The waste and inefficiency of the communist industrial complex could be seen everywhere.
We piled out of the little Neva and were met by a graying man in his 50s with nicotine stains on his fingers; he was smoking a foul-smelling Russian cigarette.  He was a gregarious enough chap and obviously a very good friend of Archil.

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Stacks of smelly, bloody cow and horse hides were piled on goop-soaked pallets.  I turned away to catch a breath of fresh air.  About 15 workers were scurrying around in the front part of the warehouse dragging the hides to different pieces of large, yellow equipment.
Within that area of the building they made the old bloody, hairy hides into beautifully, tanned, dyed, flexible swatches of leather. After snapping some pictures of the process I followed Archil into another section of the old building.  There men and women were laying patterns onto the leather and cutting the swatches into little uniform shapes.

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The factory was making shoes.  They were performing the entire process from start to finish right there in the old abandoned buildings.  We watched the rest of the operation as they sewed the pieces together, put them on foot molds of different sizes and stitched and glued the soles onto the shoes and strung the laces through the eyelets. I was pretty impressed. 

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At 6 p.m. we were scheduled to meet with the president of Tbilisi Rotary Club.  There were lots of things to discuss and certain papers needed to be signed for the matching grants being partnered with the Colorado Rotary Clubs, if the medical goods shipments were to be commenced.  Mr. Elavja Meladza, the president, was a short balding man of exaggerated intensity.  Had he been 20 pounds heavier and with a birthmark on his forehead, I would have thought I was talking to Mikhail Gorbachev of yesterday’s Russia. Mr. Meladza promised to convene an executive committee meeting of the local Rotary Club Friday at 6 p.m.
The business day seemed to start in Tbilisi about 10 in the morning and ran until about 7 in the evening.  Dinner was hardly ever planned until at least 8 p.m. Thursday night our hosts had prepared a dinner gathering at Dr. Archil’s flat.  The entire clan – the three sisters, and their illustrious husbands, and all available children, plus the shoe-manufacturing entrepreneur, his wife and sons – gathered together to eat dinner.  All those people were crowded into an old two-bedroom flat, previously made available to the professor for free by the communist party.  It was very cramped.
But the food that was served and the friendship which flowed was something to behold.  The three sisters just kept bringing additional dishes of traditional Georgian food from the kitchen.  The only time they stopped eating was to give a toast to whatever they could think of to toast.  No one seemed to mind that I continued to toast with club soda; it was just a happy, happy time.
About 11 p.m., Irina went to the piano and began to play.  Her teenage daughter, Keti, who aspired to one day be an opera singer, began to favor us with Georgian folk songs.  Soon everyone was joining in, either singing or playing.
Each of the twin sisters had graduated with honors from Georgia’s finest music conservatory before they had gone on in their professional education.  The old Georgian aristocracy was well represented in culture by our newly discovered friends in Tbilisi.  It was past midnight before the party broke up and we were informed that we had a full schedule of important meetings starting the next morning.
Next Week: Considering Compassionate Capitalism 

GEORGIA JOURNAL - 2002 (Part 1)

Tbilisi, Georgia: April 2, 2002: I wasn’t really anxious to head back to the old Soviet Union again.  My last half dozen trips through the strange world of Moscow had erased some of the old original excitement and challenge of exploring the land of the angry bear and the cold war.  I had tromped through nearly every one of the old republics throughout Eastern Europe and Central Asia.  And I had already taken too many photos of cockroaches crawling up hospital walls and antique x-ray machines with broken parts, frayed electrical cords, and unprotected nuclear units that zapped everybody with radiation when a picture was taken.
My dislike for traveling in the old Soviet Union had eased up a little when other airlines started flying around Eastern Europe and I no longer had to fly Aeroflot.  I also learned that I could avoid traveling through corruption-ridden Moscow with just a bit of creativity, and that helped.
When the Soviet Union crumbled into bankruptcy in the early 1990s the hopes of the free world soared, eagerly awaiting the oppressed and decadent Phoenix to begin to rise from the ashes of Lenin’s debauched experiment.  But for ten years the glorious transformation just never took place.  The only thing that rose was the crime rate and the power of the Russian mafia.
Georgia was somewhat different from the other old Soviet states.  Its history had always included the need to fight in order to retain its identity and sovereignty.  Georgia had historically been invaded or occupied at one time or another by Romans, Arabs, Persians, Turks, or most recently, the Ruskies.  But in spite of their hardships and need focus on self-protection, they always saw themselves as powerful, pragmatic, and very positive and proud.
When I first visited Georgia, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, they were really struggling to revive themselves from the cruel Stalinist years.  No one was going there to help with rejuvenating their commerce or economy, and even though they were crying out for the West to teach them the ways of free market and entrepreneurship, most Brits and Americans generally ignored their plight.

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But even then, the Georgians had tried to retain their positive nature about their future and put forth great effort to catch up to the pace of the rapidly moving, technological world of the West.  They had always considered themselves to be linked to European and Western civilizations rather than their Persian or Central Asian neighbors.
Tbilisi, the capital city, was founded in 459 A.D. in a valley along the Mtkuari, or Kura, River.  It was rather nestled down between the slopes and high hills of the Caucasus mountain range and had weather and seasonal patterns not a lot unlike Colorado.
Georgia adopted Christianity about 337 A.D. and in spite of the attempts of their continual invaders they had held on to their Christian heritage as a nation.  Even during the atheist and communist regime, the Georgians believed that the tenants of Christianity needed to be cherished if they were ever to survive as a western culture.  The Georgian Christian Church remained autonomous through the years but had always been closely tied to the Greek Orthodox Church in belief and ritual.

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One of the highest values maintained and stressed by the Georgian people had always been the sacredness of the family.  They really valued family and friendship and continued to emphasize taking rather formal evening meals together and enjoying pleasant times together with their close friends.  As I had often experienced, their “table” ended up being a friendship and eating ritual that could last from 8 p.m. to midnight.  And they had historically prided themselves in growing and consuming their famous Georgian wine.
The population of Tbilisi was about 1.4 million people while the whole country boasted of a population of between 5 and 6 million.  As I had observed on previous contact with the Georgians, their healthcare system was pretty much in shambles when the Russians packed up and returned to Moscow in 1991.  Now, they had the challenge of transforming their communist controlled public health system to a free market-oriented system where they would charge for their medical services.  Most healthcare facilities really needed everything.
Dr. Jim Marlin, a Rotary district chairperson for international projects, had been encouraging Project C.U.R.E., with great insistence, to travel to Georgia and participate in a healthcare project in the Tbilisi area.  He had traveled to Georgia previously and returned to Colorado determined to get Rotary involved.  The plan was for Project C.U.R.E. to donate container loads of supplies and equipment pieces; by matching grants of local Rotary clubs, international Rotary organization would cover the cost of the shipping.
We had tried to schedule a needs assessment trip to Tbilisi with Jim Marlin the previous year, but my travel schedule would not cooperate.  April 2-10 would now be the targeted dates.
I had never met Dr. Marlin in person so I had to guess from the crowd who would be my travel partner for the next week.  He wasn’t hard to spot, a professional Midwesterner in his late 60s with a tall frame and a protruding belly and a “glad-to-meet cha” handshake.  Dr. Marlin had recently retired from teaching economics at the University of Colorado in Boulder and had decided to try to make a contribution to the real world through concentrated efforts within the Rotary organization.  In spite of his impetuous demeanor, I felt very comfortable that we would have a good time traveling together in Tbilisi.
April 2, 2002
Together we boarded United Airlines flight #262 to Chicago.  With just a brief layover we continued on to London’s Heathrow Airport on flight #938.  It was very fortunate that we had caught an error in United’s luggage routing.  While looking at our luggage tags we discovered that my bags were ultimately being sent not to Tbilisi, Georgia, but to Papua New Guinea.  Jim Marlin’s bags were being sent to Brasilia, Brazil.
You could only imagine that when we reached London we were flopping around like two mad hens in the barnyard getting attention called to the mistake that we had discovered.  At the United counter at customs in London we raised a hissy only to be told that our luggage pieces had already been handed over to British Airways’ subsidiary airline called “British Mediterranean.”
Again, having not been there with us, you can only imagine the pressure we brought to bear on the United baggage man behind the counter in London.  If not corrected, the situation would have resulted in our having our luggage parked in an entirely different place than where we desperately needed them while in Georgia.  Finally, the poor little Brit behind the counter who had been totally innocent of having committed the blunder, smiled through pallid lips of his blood-drained face and assured us that our bags had been “captured” and the “destinations corrected.”
My anticipation to reach Tbilisi, Georgia, then centered on my being able to once again successfully touch the canvas textured case of my black Samsonite bag, rather than to meet and greet our future Georgian hosts.  Would I be with or without my necessities for the whole next week?
It was 2:30 in the morning when our British Mediterranean flight screeched its landing tires on the rough Georgian tarmac.  The flight was going on to Yerevan, Armenia, so I tried to gingerly step over and around the sleeping passengers who were staying on.  Still consumed by thoughts of my errant bags, I stepped to the top of the deplaning ladder.   It was like being an innocent embryo forcefully pushed from a mother’s warm, comfortable womb into a screaming blizzard.  I had thought it would be springtime in Georgia not January in Siberia.  “How do these people live in the blasted harshness of the old Soviet Union?” I asked myself.
Walking from the airplane across the runway to the terminal the bitter wind ripped at my lightweight blue sport jacket.  The icy cold was dropping directly down from the peaks of the Caucasus Mountains making cold tears run from my eyes.  “What in God’s green earth am I doing here when I could be snuggled up closely to my warm beautiful bride in Colorado?”  I knew better somehow than to try to answer that question between there and the immigration line.
I eagerly stepped to the luggage delivery box where they had started unloading the bags from the tote cart.  My mind replayed the scores of times when my luggage just didn’t show up, like the time in India a year before when I had to buy an airline ticket and travel all the way from New Delhi to Bombay to retrieve my bags because the airline had made a similar mistake.
But this time Papua New Guinea was not going to be the unexpecting recipient of my bags even though United Airlines in Denver had sent them there.  Our little friend in London had successfully “captured” our luggage and had successfully forwarded them on to Tbilisi.
To meet us at the airport at the uncivil hour of 3 a.m. were two of Jim’s friends with whom he had become acquainted on an earlier trip to Georgia.  Dr. Archil Samadashvili had been a professor at Georgia State University for 27 years; his brother-in-law Tomaz Gugliashidze also had his doctorate and taught at the university.  They had married twin sisters, Marina and Irina, who were both highly educated and possessed extraordinary credentials.
Dr. Tomaz, Dr. Irina and their two teenage children had willingly moved out of their flat located on the fifth floor of an old Soviet bloc-house in the center of Tbilisi so that the two American gentlemen from Colorado could have a place to stay for the next week.
The wind continued to rip through the side streets of Tbilisi and along the thoroughfare that paralleled the main river of Georgia.  The only thing darker than the abandoned streets of Tbilisi was the haunting stairwell of the apartment building where we were to stay.  The folks just didn’t spend a lot of money on lighting up the buildings or streets of the old Soviet towns, even though Tbilisi was actually a city of over 1.5 million people.
Tomaz showed us where our beds were and the room where the toilet was located, which was not the room where the sink and bathtub were located.  At about 4:15 a.m., his parting words were that Irina and Marina would be returning to the flat at about 10 a.m. to fix us breakfast.  I hung out my clothes and fell into the hard Russian-style bed to get a few hours of desperately needed sleep.  It had been a long non-stop trip from Denver to Tbilisi, Georgia, via London Heathrow.
Next Week: We want to be Entrepreneurs 

RUSSIA JOURNAL - 1999 (Part 2: Russian Rockets and the Power of Goodness)

Moscow, Russia: Tuesday, May 25, 1999: The head of the Russian Federal Space Agency personally directed the tour, pointing out the historical progression of the Russian rockets since 1908. He kindly answered all of my questions and pointed out the difference in basic design between the US rockets and the Russian rockets. It was easy to see why they could get over three times the thrust, efficiency, and payload lift out of their design. What used to take three separate rockets on the end of an American Atlas rocket, the Russians could accomplish with only one of their designs, which relies on fewer moving parts and superheating the fuel before it is reinjected into the chamber.

The director showed me the rocket engine that had thrust Sputnik into orbit and the engine that had launched Soviet astronauts first into space. I asked about the huge, green, clustered rocket engines, and he told me that those were the ones that had been loaded with nuclear warheads and aimed at every major city in the US during the Cold War. I shivered.

When the director concluded my tour, I asked if I could possibly have a photo of the two of us in front of the rocket engines. I fully expected him to laugh and good-heartedly deny my request. But he answered, “Sure, Dr. Jackson, it would be my privilege to be photographed with you in front of the world’s largest and most powerful rocket engines. After all, you are now one of the family.”

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The balance of the day was spent visiting hospitals and clinics for the Needs Assessment Studies. Dr. Levashova and Dr. Fatsarova’s Energomash polyclinic was first. I was very pleased that I had brought some gifts to present to the Russian doctors. I had lugged medical books, Colorado picture books, and new stethoscopes with me all across Africa, England, and Moscow. But it was worth the effort. The doctors were so overwhelmed whenever I presented each of them with a gift.

Next we assessed the largest institution of the eighteen Dr. Alexander Novikov controls. The Moscow city hospital was in pretty bad shape. The doctors I met who were heads of the different departments simply begged for consumable supplies. They couldn’t get their hands on sufficient quantities of gloves, tubing, needles, syringes, sterilization goods, or medications. I was really impressed with Dr. Alexander. He shoulders a lot of responsibility.

Lapel pins are important status symbols in Russia. At one point, Dr. Alexander removed his trophy lapel pin commemorating sixty years of space endeavors at Khimki and pinned it on me. I was moved by his expression of honor and affection. When it came time to present him with a gift, I gave him one of Dr. Netter’s collector’s books on the human anatomy. He could hardly speak.

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We then hurried to Dr. Galina Monastyrskaya’s pediatric hospital. It was getting late in the evening, but her entire staff had stayed to meet us and show us through the institution. We decided to visit two more hospitals before we quit for the day.

Another of Dr. Alexander’s hospitals is the main surgery hospital in Khimki. They perform only surgeries there. I was shocked as I walked the halls and talked to the doctors. They desperately needed anesthesia supplies, surgical instruments, ostomy supplies for cancer surgeries, lab equipment, and reagents. The surgeons in the orthopedic department begged me for bone screws, plates, wires, implants, casting material, crutches, wheelchairs—everything.

It was getting dark when we visited the last hospital for the day—the main city children’s hospital. This was another institution under the control of Dr. Alexander. A lot of children with asthma and upper-respiratory problems, as well as infectious diseases, are being treated at the hospital. I really shouldn’t visit extremely needy children’s hospitals and then return to my hotel and try to sleep. Too many mental pictures came crashing into my overloaded mind. It was late when I returned to the hotel, and I was too tired to even go downstairs to eat.

My time was running out. My Russian visa expired midnight tomorrow. I had figured that the departure date on my Russian visa could very easily be extended for one more day. I was so wrong. The officials at NPO Energomash had taken my passport and visa as soon as I arrived and approached the customs and immigration folks in Moscow on my behalf. Even with all the clout and influence of the Energomash officials, the visa people said “Nyet! If he remains in the country without a valid visa, he will go to jail and pay a very huge fine.”

The Moscow airport declared that all flights were full and would not even talk about selling me a ticket for an earlier flight than my originally scheduled flight for Friday. It looked like I would be whisked off to jail and digging for some financing to pay a hefty fine. I decided to give it one more try. I called Douglas in Denver and asked him to try to contact United/Lufthansa airline direct and get them to sell him a ticket and reservation for me from that end either to Frankfurt or Munich, Germany out of Moscow at about 10:30 p.m. on the 26th. A few minutes later he called back, “It’s a done deal.” Now I had a legitimate reservation in the system that the folks in Moscow would have to acknowledge. No jail for me this time.

Wednesday, May 26–Friday, May 28

Wednesday morning I got up, ate breakfast, packed everything, and checked out of the Aerostar Hotel even before Jim Sackett arrived. As we climbed into his car, I explained that whatever we were planning to do in Moscow, I needed to do it in time to catch my evening flight out of Moscow before my visa expired at midnight.

It was perhaps the most beautiful day I have ever seen in Russia. Before I arrived, it had been cold and rainy. But Wednesday was gorgeous. The flowers began to pop out, and the grass and trees started to turn bright green. I caught myself almost enjoying Moscow.

There were two very important appointments to be completed before I could leave. First, I had saved until Wednesday morning the Needs Assessment Study at Novogorsk Hospital No. 119, which is located just outside Khimki. The hospital is completely surrounded by a beautiful birch-tree forest. The hospital was built twenty-five years ago for the Russian Federal Space Agency employees. Before the collapse and bankruptcy of the Soviet system, it was considered a premier hospital. It still boasts 250 of Russia’s best doctors and lots of high-quality medical equipment, but it also suffers like all the other Soviet medical institutions.

Dr. Boris Pavlov personally met with Margarita Kirillova, Jim Sackett, and me and hosted our tour. As we walked the halls, Dr. Pavlov not only described the superb health-care services that once existed within the complex but was also eager to point out something quite new to the facility. He just grinned at me when he showed me the new Russian Orthodox chapel that was recently built in the hospital. Doctors, nurses, and patients alike go there to pray to God. I thanked Dr. Pavlov for showing me the chapel. He had sensed from my presentation about Project C.U.R.E. at our introductory meeting that I am a sincere Christian.

Following lunch, Margarita, Jim, and I returned to the Energomash headquarters for our final meeting. I had requested an official meeting with the customs authorities to thoroughly discuss the logistics of shipping the donated medical goods to Russia. The meeting with the woman director proved to be one of our most productive meetings in Moscow. She estimated how much value to declare on the load and offered other absolutely necessary tips for a successful delivery.

While sitting at the conference table drinking a cup of terrible coffee across from the customs official, I began to think about Project C.U.R.E. and the methods and procedures we’ve adopted over the years. One of the reasons we’ve been so effective around the world is because we insist on meeting and doing business with government officials, as we did at the meeting on Wednesday. The very fact that we’re willing to go to the various countries around the world, personally meet with the decision makers, and work with them directly makes Project C.U.R.E. unique. Project C.U.R.E. doesn’t follow the customs and procedures of other humanitarian organizations that simply want their staff to sit in their trophy offices in Washington, D. C. or New York and send supplies to places they have never gone and to people they have never met in person. I breathed a prayer of thanks to God for helping us see new and creative ways to get the work successfully accomplished and for the energy and good health to actually go and fulfill the necessary requirements to guarantee the success and appropriateness of the donations.

After some hassle from the airlines and customs folks, I was able to board a 7:30 flight and leave Moscow for Frankfurt, Germany, before my visa expired. Because of my change of flights and overnight stay in Germany, the airlines managed to lose my luggage. So instead of flying through Washington, D.C., to Denver, I had to change flights again and travel through Chicago and on to Denver.

Roman philosopher Seneca once said, “It is not because things are difficult that we do not venture. It is because we do not venture that they are difficult.” I am coming to understand more and more that there is great strength in kindness and gentleness, and our acts of kindness are really stepping stones to our own fulfillment. At any rate, I have decided to see if we can continue to significantly shake our world with kindness and gentleness. On this present trip, I’ve been away for nearly the entire month of May. I’m really tired and ready to go home. But God honored our efforts with the medical clinics in Diorbivol, Senegal; performed miracles in Nouakchott, Mauritania; brought about results in England that we never could have hoped for otherwise, and blessed my efforts once again in Russia with incalculable success. I’m returning home tired, but I’m still the happiest man in the world.

END NOTE TO READER: It really was an historical event of great significance when the two nuclear superpowers of the world were now joined in a common program of peaceful achievement. Project C.U.R.E. had been able to play a very small, but very key, part of what had transpired with the NPO Energomash and Lockheed Martin joint venture.  I was told later that not only did President Boris Yeltsin approve and sign the deal, but encouraged the process, because of the love and compassion that the American scientists had shown for the struggling Russian rocket scientists of the aerospace program. Hearing later of the successful inaugural launch of Lockheed Martin’s Atlas III rocket powered by the Russian RD 180 rocket engine was very rewarding for me.


RUSSIA JOURNAL -- 1999 ( Part 1: Russian Rockets and the Power of Goodness)

NOTE TO READER: On May 14, 2000, I received word that the very first American rocket equipped with a Russian RD180 rocket engine had blasted off from launch pad 36B at Cape Canaveral, Florida. My eyes raced to read the details. The propulsion system designed and built by the Russians had launched the inaugural Lockheed Martin Atlas III rocket carrying a Eutelsat W4 communications satellite into active duty. I shivered. In 1996, I had the opportunity of becoming friends with Robert Ford, Lockheed Martin’s program manager. He loved what we were doing around the world with Project C.U.R.E., and teams of employees and executives from Lockheed Martin would frequently come to Project C.U.R.E. and help us sort materials, pack cases of medical goods, and help us load the ocean-going cargo containers. One day, Robert explained to me that they had recently been dealing with the scientists at the highly secured Khimki scientific complex near the Moscow airport. Since the political demise of the country and the economic bankruptcy of their system, even the most respected scientists and technicians of the old Federation had been cut off along with their families from any access to medical services or salaries. The hospitals were empty of the most basic medical supplies, and even their polyclinics were without simple essentials. “As a community of fellow scientists,” said Robert, “we would like to come along side our new Russian acquaintances and their families and help them out in their time of medical need. We have worked with Project C.U.R.E. in the past and would be proud to have you partner with us to see if we can make a difference.

 I have chosen to share here with you the Travel Journal of May 1999 to give you a taste of our involvement in that historic occasion.

Monday, May 24, 1999: London England: I was up at 3:15 this morning. I needed to pack, check out of my London hotel room, walk the length of St. James’s Park and Green Park, and catch the Airbus to Heathrow at Hyde Park Corner Station. My flight was an early flight to Munich, Germany. From there I transferred to a flight that took me directly to Moscow’s central airport. I was presuming that Bob Ford, supervisor at Lockheed Martin in Denver, would be at the Moscow airport to pick me up.

Moscow, Russia isn’t my favorite city in the world. I’ve been in and out of there many times, and I find myself feeling irritable and apprehensive each time I prepare to visit. I have many good friends in Russia and throughout the old Soviet Union and have fond memories associated with many of my trips. But there’s something about the city of Moscow that leaves me with feelings I can only describe as “dark.” If the Russian officials can hassle you over the slightest detail, they will. If they can take advantage of you as an American, they will. I have found that many Russians are rude even toward their own people.

Because of my previous experiences there, I was really hoping that I would spot Bob Ford just as soon as I stepped out of customs. While I was standing in line to clear customs, my mind went back to the time the customs official at Moscow arbitrarily took out of my passport my visa for Kazakhstan. I protested loudly and told him the visa was my property, and I needed it to enter Aktau as I continued my journey. The official gave me back my passport but without my Kazakhstan visa, and the only explanation I could get was that they didn’t like or approve of Kazakhstan, since they had withdrawn from the union. My further protests got me absolutely nowhere, and eventually I had to go through the process of purchasing another visa at the border of Kazakhstan.

Then my mind quickly jumped to another time when the customs officials searched me and made me count out all my money in front of them, not believing that what I had written down on the entry form was true. And then there was the time my military officer friends from Tver, Russia, fully armed with semiautomatic weapons, escorted me from Tver all the way to the Moscow airport and even stayed with me through customs because they didn’t trust their fellow Russians, especially in Moscow.

Well, when I exited customs, I didn’t spot Bob, but I did see a nice big sign reading “Dr. James Jackson.” Jim Sackett, Lockheed Martin’s representative in Moscow, and his driver were there to meet me. Bob had been detained in Denver and had to cancel the trip.

We went directly to the Aerostar Hotel, where I checked in. The accommodations at the Aerostar were superior to any I had experienced on previous trips. Jim Sackett, an American engineer in his thirties, has been in Russia for six years, living there with his American wife and four-year-old daughter. He speaks Russian quite well but told me he still relies on translators when he’s involved in technical meetings. Jim will be my host during my stay in Moscow.

Allow me to review Project C.U.R.E.’s involvement with Lockheed Martin, the American industrial giant; NPO Energomash; and the aerospace rocket complex of Russia.

A couple of years ago, Lockheed Martin officials in Colorado contacted Project C.U.R.E. to see if we were still donating medical supplies to people in the old Soviet Union. They had run across a group of Russians who desperately needed medical help, and they told us that if Project C.U.R.E. would furnish the medical goods, Lockheed Martin would underwrite the shipping expense.

The joint project was very successful. The top Lockheed Martin officials pitched in and helped load the container of goods out of our Denver warehouse. Their public-relations cameras busily clicked away, and it became a humanitarian gesture of some distinction for both Lockheed Martin and Project C.U.R.E. The targeted recipients were the rocket and aerospace families of Russia who had been disenfranchised and abandoned when the Soviet Union split and went bankrupt.

Earlier this year, Lockheed Martin once again contacted me and wanted to talk about a five-year program of helping the hospitals and clinics of Khimki, the NPO Energomash community.

The purpose of this trip to Moscow is for Project C.U.R.E. to conduct a complete Needs Assessment Study of the hospitals and clinics in the area to better determine what would be appropriate to send to them over a five-year period.

Once I checked into my hotel, I sat down with Jim Sackett and reviewed the agenda for the days I will be here. Before I went to bed, the personnel at the front desk notified me of a potential problem I might have with my Russian visa. The woman said, “Dr. Jackson, you say you will stay with us through the night of May 27 and check out on the 28th. But it’s against Russian law for a hotel to rent a room to a person whose visa has expired. Your visa expires at midnight on May 26. I think you have a big problem.”

I thought to myself, Why am I surprised that I’m being hassled over a technical problem here in Moscow? I told the lady at the desk that I’ll look into the problem tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 25

This morning Jim Sackett and his driver picked me up at the Aerostar Hotel, and we drove to the gated city of Khimki . Some of the tightest security in the world exists within those walls and beyond those fences. It was there the Russians designed, developed, prototyped, built, tested, and installed the world’s most powerful and most efficient rockets. US scientists developed their products with an entirely different design and philosophy. No one has ever disputed the superiority of Russian rockets over any others developed to date. And over the years, it had all taken place right where I was now standing.

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Lockheed Martin never needed to be convinced of the superior design and function of the Russian rockets. Lockheed had produced the American rockets that put satellites into orbit and launched American astronauts into space and even onto the moon. And they had developed military systems with rockets capable of delivering megatons of nonnuclear and nuclear warheads anywhere in the world, So as soon as the economic and political systems of the Soviet Union crumbled, Lockheed immediately sought to purchase all the remaining Russian rocket engines in existence.

By purchasing the inventory of Soviet rocket engines, Lockheed Martin accomplished at least three things within the global market and aerospace culture: (1) The US aerospace program was able to sop up all the inventories of rockets in Russia, adding to national security in the US; (2) Lockheed Martin would be able to corner the market on supplying rocket engines for future space travel and launching commercial satellites and exploration vehicles; and (3) the advanced technology of the Russian aerospace program, including hard-metal merchandise and Russian intelligence and manpower, would be available to the American space program for development. Perhaps an additional benefit is that when Boris Yeltsin signed the agreement with Lockheed Martin, certain sums of money and benefits began to flow back into the Russian aerospace community to keep the scientists and their families from starving.

The thing that amazed me when I became involved in observing the huge, historic agreement that took place between the Russian space industry and the American space industry was how encompassing and successful the cross-country venture became in such a short period of time. Driven by such basic free-market economic principles like scarcity, choice, and cost; division of labor; supply and demand; and just the simple profit benefits of a compatible deal, the transaction in itself became a great example of free enterprise for the world and, especially, the old Marxist-Communist diehards to see in action.

As I’ve become more and more involved in the venture, the more proud I’ve grown of the strength of the free-enterprise system I stand for and believe in. I have promoted such concepts to eager learners here at home through books and seminars, but never knew I would play even a small part in global free enterprise through the agreement between the US space industry and rocket scientists here in the old Soviet Union.

At 10:00 a.m., I had the opportunity to meet with some of the main players of the Lockheed–NPO Energomash joint venture—Dr. Victor Sigaev, the general director of NPO Energomash; Dr. Vasily Vaculin, deputy general director; Dr. Arthur Boitsov, deputy general director; and Lockheed Martin representatives. The meeting was scheduled for a full two hours, and we took every minute. 

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I was briefed on the NPO Energomash rocket venture and then was introduced to the top medical officials from Moscow and Khimki. I was then given an opportunity to explain what Project C.U.R.E. will be doing to further aid and encourage the venture by supplying medical goods and equipment to the hospitals and clinics in and around Khimki and Moscow. I probably don’t need to tell you how well Project C.U.R.E. was received when the Russian officials realized that their families could soon be receiving humanitarian aid in the form of medical supplies, which they have done without since before the fall of the Soviet Union.

Dr. Alexander Novikov is the chief director over eighteen hospitals and polyclinics in Moscow, including the 1,200-bed city hospital; Dr. Boris Pavlov is the deputy chief of the 800-bed Novogorsk hospital, which is the flagship hospital of the Khimki community; Dr. Galina Monastyrskaya is chief of the children’s polyclinic; Dr. Gorbachevsky is chief of the entire Khimki area; and Dr. Ludmila Levashova and Dr. Nina Fatsarova serve respectively as director and deputy director of the NPO Energomash polyclinic. They have all joined together to work with Project C.U.R.E. 

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Margarita Kirillova, who has been a career space official for the Russians for over twenty-five years in Khimki, was our translator. At her insistence, we broke for lunch at noon, but our discussions regarding the medical needs around Moscow could have extended well into the afternoon.

Lunch was lovely and was spiked with generous toasts that left me creatively figuring out how to dodge having to drink their vodka and other alcoholic drinks. Afterward, I walked into an experience I shall never forget. Passing all kinds of security, I was led right into the building complex where the designing, building, and testing of the famous Russian rockets takes place. Jim Sackett, the Lockheed engineer, leaned over to me and said, “You are now among a very small handful of officials from the West who have ever been permitted to pass through these doors and see what you will now see.” I thought how much James Bond would have given twenty years ago to be in my shoes!

Next Week: One of the Family