Way back in 2008 we were traveling across China by train, when I asked our friend Wil about the book he was reading. It was Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder. Wil raved about the book and has, in fact, followed in Paul Farmer’s footsteps as he recently graduated from medical school.
Mountains Beyond Mountains is just that kind of book. It is a New York Times Best Seller, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize. It is the biography of Dr. Paul Farmer, a man who fell in love with the country and people of Haiti. As an anthropologist turned doctor, Farmer seeks to care for the poorest of the poor, widows, orphans, and prisoners. In his journey to cure infectious diseases (primarily TB & AIDS), he finds he must solve the problems surrounding them…living conditions, religious beliefs, political turmoil, family relationships, transportation, education, health programs, financial need, and more.
“Doctor Paul” is no Savior, but he serves the people of Haiti, and later the world, as we all should serve others. Every person becomes his patient, receiving top-notch care equivalent to what one would expect in the world’s best hospitals from the world’s best doctors, at no cost. Like a modern day Robin Hood, he asks (or occasionally takes) from the rich to provide an option for the poor (“o for the p”). His work takes him from Haiti to Boston, Peru, Russia, France, Africa, and more. As the work of Partners in Health (PIH) expands to include international initiatives and funding, he talks about Haiti with everyone from the least to the most powerful in our modern era.
Paul Farmer and his team at PIH will inspire and challenge you to reconsider how you can get involved in resolving global inequalities…through compassion, kindness, sacrifice, hard work, persistence, team work, gratitude, passion, creativity, and thoughtful consideration for each individual. Encountering Paul Farmer in the pages of Mountains Beyond Mountains will convince you once again that one person really can make a difference.