Not many people can say they helped save 6 million children’s lives. But that’s one fact Lynn Paxton can add to her resume.
Lynn is an American doctor specializing in epidemiology, and she happens to be one of many landlords who use Cozy to manage their properties from afar. For nearly 20 years, she’s been a commissioned officer in the U.S. Public Health Service, as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For the last 3 years, she’s been living in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where she works as a resident advisor for the President’s Malaria Initiative, which operates through the CDC.
“We’re here to save lives and stomp out disease,” she says.
Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by a parasite that’s transmitted to people through bites of infected mosquitoes. According to the World Health Organization, 3.5 billion people are at risk of getting malaria. (That’s half the world’s population.) In 2015, there were about 214 million new malaria cases worldwide, and an estimated 438,000 people died of the disease.
Since the President’s Malaria Initiative launched in 2005, it has expanded to 19 countries and has helped cut the rate of malaria in half and save the lives of 6 million kids by providing insecticide-treated mosquito nets, improving diagnosis and treatments, and spraying insecticide on the inside of houses in high-endemic areas.
“It’s worked,” Lynn says, “which has been incredibly gratifying.”
This isn’t her first stint in Africa. Lynn has conducted malaria, HIV, and STD prevention trials in Kenya, Uganda, Botswana, and South Africa. She’s done short-term consultations and presentations on 5 continents.
But she calls Decatur, Georgia, home. After all, it’s where she has a house, the place she lived with her daughter Katie, who’s now 13 years old. These days Katie attends an international school in Dar es Salaam and spends her free time Skyping with friends in Paris, Atlanta, and Nigeria.
When they moved to Tanzania, Lynn decided to rent her house in Georgia. “I’m what’s called an ‘accidental landlord,’” she says.
Renting the house went smoothly, except the renter frequently made late payments; she would forget to start the money transfer on time. Lynn discovered Cozy on a BiggerPockets forum, where she was seeking advice on how to make rent collection more automated.
Her next renter agreed to use Cozy, and now payments arrive in Lynn’s bank account on time, every month. Lynn wants her other three tenants—who share the house in Los Angeles that Lynn inherited from her father—to start using Cozy, too.
She and Katie will move back to Georgia next year, so Katie can attend high school in the U.S. In the meantime, they’re enjoying their current home. Katie has been on so many safaris that she responded to the idea of going on another one with, “Mom, lions again?’”
Lynn continues to study Swahili, the national language of Tanzania, and she says she has the skills to get around the country without speaking English. She and Katie have committed to supporting a local children’s home and have help build new housing for the 28 kids who live there.
They’ve also become avid scuba divers, a convenient sport in Dar es Salaam. “I roll out of bed at 7:30 in the morning, and I’m at the dive shack by 8,” Lynn says.
Last year, Lynn and Katie flew to Zanzibar, an archipelago, where they dove with sea turtles and octopuses. One of the highlights was swimming in open water with whale sharks.
The moment captured the freedom and joy of a purposeful life abroad.
Underwater photo by Eric Beaume. All reprinted with permission of Lynn Paxton.