I never drank Scotch at 10 o’clock in the morning until I met Chuck Pryzmus, an anesthesiologist from Minnesota. We were in Tanzania, Africa, riding in a bus full of Medical professionals and support staff with  and Chuck opened a bottle of Scotch and started passing out drinks. His motive, purportedly, was to give moral support to another doctor who suffering pain because of a recent knee-replacement. Being the empathetic person I am, I naturally imbibed for the doctor’s sake. I’m not sure the doctor felt better, but the rest of the bus got pretty happy.

It was Chuck’s 28th trip to Tanzania.  And, since he passed out the Scotch in January, he’s been back two more times.  You know you travel a lot when the airline attendants know the names of your children.

Chuck loves Tanzania so much he’s having a house built there. It’s down the road a bit from the brand-new-not-open-yet 1,000 bed regional hospital he’s had a pretty big hand in creating.

When I asked him why he was so involved in Africa, his response was, “I told my banker the other day I wanted to die ten dollars overdrawn.  What else am I going to do with my money? I can’t take it with me but I can do a lot of good here.”

Singida Regional Hospital

Singida, Tanzania, Regional Hospital

I would put a photo of Chuck on here so you could see him, but he hates having his photo taken and, like he told me, if I did then he’d have to kill me.  That’s not a threat you take lightly from an anesthesiologist. Instead, I’ll put a picture of the new hospital.

Chuck represents a growing number of people who are not content with just giving money to a charity for a tax deduction or to get their name engraved on a brass plaque.  They not only want their money to affect change, they want to be a part of the change themselves.

I’m reminded of the study done with a geriatric population several years ago when they were asked this question: If you had life to live over again, what would you do differently?

These are the 3 main responses:

        1. They would risk more
        2. They would pause and reflect more
        3. They would do something that would live on after they are gone

Doing something that lives on after we’re gone is pretty important, apparently, because there are growing numbers of people like Chuck who not only want to help fund a change in the world, they want to be a part of the change in the world. And, frankly, if you choose to roll up your sleeve and be a part of the process, expect it to get a bit messy every once in a while.  You will change right along with the change you are making.

But I’d really recommend you leave the Scotch alone at 10 o’clock in the morning.