Esther Moring, my other health care hero

Esther Moring and I married in 2006 in a 19th-century red brick Methodist Church in Abbeville, AL, her parents’ hometown. 

Esther at Dulles International Airport in 2016, before her flight to Liberia for Doctors Without Borders' ebola aftermath mission.

Esther at Dulles International Airport in 2016, before her flight to Liberia for Doctors Without Borders' ebola aftermath mission.

Besides being a fabulous wife, Esther has been an emergency medical coordinator on 38 missions for Doctors Without Borders (MSF, initials for its French name), International Rescue Committee, Merlin, and the International Committee of the Red Cross on four continents since 1994. 

That was when she worked with emergency teams to care for hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the Rwandan massacres (portrayed in the movie, “Hotel Rwanda”). Her most recent mission (and not her last) was in 2016 in Liberia in the aftermath of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. 

In between were missions for civil wars, famines, outbreaks, and natural disasters.  To mention a few: the civil wars in Liberia, Bosnia, East Timor and Sri Lanka; outbreaks of Ebola and other killer diseases in Congo, Chad and Sierra Leone; and the earthquake in Haiti and winter crisis in a remote valley of Tajikistan. 

Sustaining her dedication to service has been a strong commitment to her Christian faith. She’s an active member of First Presbyterian Church of Tallahassee and made a point of attending services wherever she could when on overseas missions. Despite the dangers she’s faced, she is convinced that she’s in “the safest place” – in God’s hands. 

That she has lived her faith so authentically was a big reason I fell in love and married her.  Our third date was a week in New Orleans working in the Ninth Ward four months after Hurricane Katrina.  I gutted houses while she staffed a free health clinic.  We got engaged our last night there and married five months later.

Esther re-enlisting as an Army Reserve medic while in college.

Esther re-enlisting as an Army Reserve medic while in college.

The earlier part of her nursing career was much the same. While a nursing student at Auburn University and University of Alabama-Birmingham, she served as an Alabama National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve medic, rising to Spec. 5.  

After graduating from UAB, she became a county public health nurse in rural Colorado, then moved to Seattle to earn a master’s degree in nursing at the University of Washington. After a few years as a hospice nurse there, she began her career with MSF.