on haiti and having no way out

I haven’t posted about Haiti for many many reasons – most coming down to, “i don’t even know what to say.” But I imagine I don’t need to encourage people to give/do what they can – that seems as obvious as it comes.

Awhile ago i read a biography about Dr. Paul Farmer who began the Clinique Bon Sauveur in Cange, Haiti, to deliver health care to the residents of the mountainous Central Plateau. It was the first free hospital, and in a country where a massive majority of the population cannot afford any of the cost, this was a massive and very controversial contribution. The Clinic was just the first of an arc of successful projects designed to address the health care needs of the residents of the poorest area in Haiti. Two years later, in 1987, Partners in Health in 1987 was founded. In the 20 years since then, PIH has expanded its operations to eight other sites in Haiti and nine additional countries and has launched a number of other initiatives. (info from pih.org)

My younger sister, Caylin, heard about Dr. Farmer while studying world health in university. She lent me his biography, Mountains Beyond Mountains, which provoked a whole lot of thought and a good bit of change in my life as well. She and I both have so much respect for Dr. Farmer and PIH and I can wholeheartedly say that I support them with my thoughts, prayers, and finances. And in case you were having trouble deciding where to put your money in the face of such a crisis, know that this is a great place for it.

I’ll leave you with one of the more impactful moments in the book (and i say “more” because there are literally hundreds). At one point, Dr. Raul turns to Tracy (the author of the book who has been studying dr. paul for several months) and says quite pointedly:

“When others write about people who live on the edge, who challege their comfortable lives – and it has happened to me – they usually do it in a way that allows a reader a way out. You could render generosity into a pathology, commitment into an obsession. That’s all in the repertory of someone who wants to put the reader at ease rather than conveying the truth in a compelling manner. I want people to feel unhapppy about Lazarus (a patient) and all the others who are shafted. otherwise why would I have you with me? I don’t have a lot at stake in how you depict me. I’ve been yelled at by generals and denounced by people who don’t have any data when I have a shitload. It does no harm to me, but plenty to my patients.”

So let’s not allow ourselves a way out of this one. Let’s do what we can. And yes, call me harsh, but if either of us are not doing what we can (and only each of us know what that is), then shame on you and shame on me.

Stand With Haiti


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Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.
-Kahlil Gibran

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