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While attending a World Health Organization conference in Geneva recently, longtime Juneau resident Dr. Henry Wilde, right, revealed to colleagues that the 'African statue' just outside WHO headquarters was actually the work of Juneau artist Skip Wallen. The bronze, by the creator of the popular feeding grizzly outside Juneau's courthouse, represents the battle against river blindness (caused by a tissue parasite) in Africa, according to Dr. Wilde. The young man represented is leading his blind father or uncle, who is holding on to a stick. The statue was unveiled at the building by former President Jimmy Carter, Dr. Wilde said.
At left is Dr. Christian Herzog, director of the Swiss Serum and Vaccine Institute. (His daughter Serina spent part of this summer in Juneau.) At center is Prof. Hillary Koprowski of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. He is the developer of modern rabies vaccines. Dr. Wilde is of Juneau and Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok,Thailand.
After the photo session, Prof. Koprowski made a remark about the sculpture's origins at the next session, which he chaired. According to Dr. Wilde, many delegates - from Africa, Asia, Europe, the U.S. and South America - later went out to look at the work and commented favorably about it.