My dear friends, students, and colleagues,
I write with distressing news about a member of our extended family. Yesterday, Anita Ashok Datar Garten, a 2003 graduate of the Mailman School, was killed in Mali when armed insurrectionists stormed a hotel in the capital city of Bamako.
Anita was an exemplary global citizen, a Peace Corps volunteer who came to the Mailman School after service in Senegal, and a tireless advocate for women’s health and social justice. She was in Mali as a representative of Palladium, strengthening health infrastructure in an impoverished country, and was a Board member of Tulalens, which she co-founded, to better inform low-income women in India about higher quality healthcare options.
The nature of public health sends its practitioners all over the globe to help create a safer, healthier, and more just world. Some of those circumstances are ones of great instability. Thousands of Mailman alumni live as Anita did, sacrificing time with her family to serve where her insight was urgently needed to improve health and counterbalance the persistent poverty under which many of the world’s populations suffer.
Most of us were not lucky enough to have known Anita, though I am hopeful details of her years at Mailman and her career will come to light in the coming days. Until then I am comforted to imagine her capacity, deployed so productively and for so many years, as an exemplar for us all.
Linda P. Fried