Emily Esmaili

After completing medical school and pediatric residency training in the US, Emily first moved to Laos (Southeast Asia) to work with an NGO called Health Frontiers, as country manager and pediatrics faculty. After several years in Laos, she moved to Rwanda– only to find many of the same problems with child poverty, food scarcity, and their negative impacts upon health. Emily first came to Butare in early 2014, to teach Rwandan doctors about child health. As a pediatrician and clinical instructor in the Department of Pediatrics at CHUB, she worked with a program called Human Resources for Health, which aimed to train qualified pediatricians in Rwanda, who could then go on to improve infant and child health in their country. While working at CHUB, Emily quickly realized that many of her patients and their families were not eating. They often came to this tertiary referral hospital from long distances, and gave everything they had towards medical expenses. So, even if they were taking the medicines prescribed, they were often weak, malnourished, and slow to recover. Emily would take care of premature babies who could not grow and gain weight, because their mothers were too malnourished to produce breast milk. After discussing these frustrations with other founding members, the group decided to begin what was first called “Farming for Child Health (F4CH).” F4CH rapidly grew beyond the pediatrics department, to what is KU today, and KU continues to expand beyond expectation.
Emily is currently based in North Carolina, where she is earning her Master’s degree in Global Bioethics and Science Policy at Duke University, while working with low-income, immigrant, and refugee families in an underserved clinic. She continues to work with KU from a distance, and loves to visit the farm whenever she is able.
“I have long been compelled by problems of child health globally, and particularly by the tragedy of child malnutrition. A child’s nutrition is the foundation for her well-being. During illness, proper nutrition is essential for recovery and healing.”