[In 1994,] following a call for help from Doctors Without Borders, [Cindy] McCain had assembled a medical team with the intention of setting up a mobile hospital in Rwanda. Arriving by private plane in mid-April, a couple of weeks into the massacres, she realized that the chaos made deploying her team impossible. At the airport, she paid for the use of a truck and set out for Goma in then-Zaire, where hundreds of thousands of refugees were also headed...While the world watched the genocide on TV, very few did anything. I have the utmost respect for those who acted.
Arriving across the border in Goma, in what is now Congo, McCain found cholera victims stacked beside the road "like highway barriers." "I remember having to step over the decomposing body of an infant, covered with white powder, lime I guess, to get into one building." The field hospital covered four acres. McCain's team provided primary care for sick and frightened refugees, many of them suffering from dehydration. For nearly a month, McCain organized deliveries of food and water for the operation, collecting supplies at the Goma airport.
In the shadow of Barack Obama's world tour, McCain joined a bipartisan delegation... [and] came back to a very different Rwanda -- peaceful, well governed, and making, with American help, some of the most rapid progress in the history of public health. "What has struck me," says McCain, "is that most people are reconciling. A woman I met was gang-raped [during the genocide], her throat was slit, she lost her whole family, but was willing to forgive. The reason this will be a successful country is the women -- some of the strongest, most inspiring women I have ever met" ...Mr. Obama has a fascinating ancestry. But for actual accomplishments in their own years, I would pick either of the McCains.
Over the years, McCain has taken medical services to a Sandinista stronghold after Nicaragua's civil war; set up a mobile hospital near Kuwait City while the oil wells still burned from the Persian Gulf War; helped in Bangladesh after a cyclone. And while in that country in 1991 she found her daughter Bridget in an orphanage -- "She really picked me," McCain insists. Sometimes the desire to save every child is properly concentrated on a single child.