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In May 2018, Dr. Margo Weishar and her team led a community hike in Upper Dublin, Pennsylvania, raising more than $10,000 for skin cancer prevention and early detection programs and services. This is part of a larger campaign created by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), designed to raise awareness about skin cancer and secure donations to support further skin cancer research. After the event, the AAD congratulated the Springhouse Dermatology team for raising the highest amount of any local hike!
The patients she treated came to her with a single hope: to be healed of various diseases and conditions, which are primarily the result of the living conditions and tribal life of the Masaai in rural Kenya. These conditions occur much more prevalently in Africa given the limited availability of resources and unique living conditions. Until Baraka was built, all medical care occurred in the villages given out by traditional tribal medicine.
Dr. Weishar is thankful to be able to use her medical knowledge and passion to help those in need, and has dedicated her practice to giving back to patients beyond her community in Montgomery County.
In May 2013, Dr. Weishar took a life-changing trip to Kenya, where she was able to treat patients at a small clinic called the Baraka Health Clinic through the support of the NGO Free the Children.
The patients would walk long distances to be seen at a medical facility and the permanent staff of Baraka were dedicated to bringing modern medicine to the community. To put it into perspective, the Baraka Health Clinic employs just a single ambulance, has a laboratory the size of an average-sized kitchen here in the US, and has a pharmacy that spans the width of two shelves.
Dr. Weishar was part of a team of Dermatologists bringing specialty care to rural Kenya, something that is unique even among volunteer abroad programs. Patients come to the clinic seeking to treat anything from river blindness, which occurs at unparalleled rates in Africa and is caused by the bite of the black fly, to elephantiasis, an inflammation of the lymph nodes caused by a mosquito bite or other such parasitic contact and that can make a simple task like walking feel nearly impossible. As there was no internet, no skin biopsies, and limited labs, the team relied on textbooks and each other to diagnose skin disease, making for a challenging but very rewarding process.
Perhaps the most refreshing feeling Dr. Weishar experienced during her stay in Kenya was the true sense of gratitude that radiated from each patient. Despite the limited medical resources available, the patients Dr. Weishar had the pleasure of treating were hopeful, resilient, and welcoming of the knowledge she brought to their hometown. Dr. Weishar saw and treated men and women of all ages, including pediatric patients as young as one week old, who came to her with various ailments in hopes that she would be able to give them a proper diagnosis.
She saw things that she had never encountered in over twenty years of working as a licensed dermatologist in the U.S.
More importantly, however, Dr. Weishar was able to give back beyond simply offering her medical knowledge and dermatological expertise. While in Kenya, she visited schools that had recently been rebuilt, where elementary-aged children were studying English to learn more and participate in the world outside their tribal upbringing.
She learned about and contributed to animal preservation and participated in the Clean Water Project, whose mission is to make access to clean water a reality. Dr. Weishar is proud to embody the positive change she wishes to see in the world. She has grown immensely from her trip to Kenya, and is excited to be sharing these experiences that have made her even more dedicated to treating her patients back in Montgomery County.