Some call him Father Teresa, some simply call him Dad.
Doctor Rick Hodes, MD, is a quiet and unassuming man – one whose deeds speak the volumes he does not. Introduced to Ethiopia in the 1980s on a Fulbright scholarship, “Dr Rick” as he has affectionately become known, never really left. Working out of Mother Teresa’s mission in Addis Ababa Dr Rick, a Johns Hopkins trained internist, literally saves lives every day.
A cliché perhaps – but in a country where there is 1 doctor for every 40 000 people, hospitals that are ill equipped at best, Dr Rick’s work serves a critical purpose. Routinely faced with illnesses rarely seen in western countries, (children with backs set at 90 degrees from spinal TB or facial tumors the size of soccer balls) Dr Rick sets about curing what he can. And if he doesn’t have all the answers for a patient, he resorts to his personal global network of experts. Through fundraising, or even with money from his own wallet, he provides the logistic and financial support his patients need when they require treatment outside of Ethiopia.
On top of all of this, Dr Rick is a single dad – having adopted 5 sons. Besides those who he has officially adopted, there are often close to 15 orphans staying at the two homes he rents in the capital. Dr Rick pays for their schooling and medical bills. Most of these children are recovering from serious illnesses. However, despite the suffering they’ve endured, the household is filled with more love (and indeed chaos!) than I have ever encountered.
Call him what you will: Dr Rick's passion for medicine, and for people, affords a life to many who would certainly not survive without him. More importantly, he provides hope to the many whose lives he touches.