Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dr. Paul Farmer

Let me first begin by saying that I was not looking forward to seeing the man who wrote the book which I had to force myself to read during my last week of summer. But, on the other hand, I was excited to hear the words I had read, come straight from Tracy Kidder’s mouth while having him standing right in front of me in McGuire Hall.

The majority of the lecture given by Tracy Kidder on his book, Mountains Beyond Mountains, was a review for me since I forced myself to read the book. Kidder, a Pulitzer Prize Winner, wrote this book based on his experiences around the world with Dr. Paul Farmer. Dr. Farmer, a Harvard Medical Grad Student, began studying the Haitian culture while in college at Duke. He developed curiosity for the people there, which had to suffer living in one of the poorest countries in the world, with barely any medical assistance. Throughout college and medical school, he found that it was his duty to bring medical assistance to those of the less fortunate. After being exposed to these places of poverty, he found it essential to cure infectious diseases, especially Tuberculosis, and to bring the necessary tools of modern medicine to those who need them most.

By age 27, Dr. Farmer co-founded Partners In Health in Haiti, which has now developed into a universal health organization. PIH has helped patients in poverty obtain free treatment, specifically for Tuberculosis and AIDS, and provides them with the necessary drugs to continue treatment on their own. Farmer has also developed medical projects in Russia, Peru and Rwanda.

Listening to Tracy Kidder speak about Dr. Paul Farmer gave me the same reaction as the one I received while reading Mountains Beyond Mountains. As I read the book this summer, I felt overwhelmed with the fact that Farmer had accomplished so much at a young age, and that I haven’t even figured out what I want to study in college. By his junior year at Duke, he knew exactly what he wanted to do and had begun to visit countries to carry out his future plans. Being here for two months at Loyola though, I have felt a sense of relief to this problem. Having to do service, taking Core classes, and having the opportunity to become involved in so many different activities has let me seen that I will be exposed to myriad amounts of various interests, and will find just what exactly I want to do in the future sometime throughout these four years.

Another point Tracy Kidder continued to make about Paul Farmer is that he wants everyone to remember that “We are all humans”. This famous phrase of Farmer’s came from a situation with a Haitian woman and her sick sister. The young, sick woman needed a blood transfusion desperately, and her sister was willing to drive from the hospital Farmer was currently at, to a near by hospital to get the blood. Farmer scurried around the hospital to find money. Finally, the woman could rush to the next hospital to get what was needed, but they would not give the blood to her because of her social class. The Haitian lady was devastated, and replied with, “We are all human beings”.

Farmer keeps this motto in mind at all time. It shouldn’t matter what color, race, gender or social class we are, because we are all equal and should receive the same respect, not just medical attention, as everyone else does. From the short stories and poetry we have read in the past two weeks of class, I have also received and realized this message; that we are all unique but equal, and should be treated as one.

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