Haiti Outreach Program

Meeting Dr. Paul Farmer

On December 3rd, Jarett Beaudoin and I attended a discussion with Dr. Paul Farmer at his alma mater- Duke University. He spoke about his new book: “Haiti: After the Eartquake,” showed plans and pictures of Partners In Health’s beautiful new teaching hospital in Haiti, and candidly answered questions from the audience.  We talked to him afterward at the book signing table and he immediately lit up and thanked us for our work in Haiti when he heard we were from Knoxville. It was so great to meet him (in my home town too!) and I was proud to represent the HOP. The event was recorded and can be found here.

If you don’t know who Dr. Farmer is, I suggest picking up a copy of Tracy Kidder’s “Mountains Beyond Mountains” biographical account of Dr. Farmer’s work in Haiti and the development of Partners In Health (PIH), an international organization that fights to bring medical care to the world’s poorest for free.  Watch this 60 Minutes report for more: http://www.pih.org/pages/what-we-do/

The Haiti Outreach Program has been partnering with PIH for the past 10 years to provide adequate healthcare in Haiti. Our budget includes monthly support for PIH and each year the Medical Benefit raises funds for medical equipment such as X-ray machines and surgical tools to equip our clinics and finance Haitian medical workers salaries.

A lot of the Haitians that the HOP works with are also employed by PIH. In October, PIH employees attended the secondary school ground-breaking and Deacon Ben Johnston met with PIH’s Amanda Schwartz to exchange ideas on future project collaborations. It was then that he was invited to attend the PIH Symposium in Boston, which he did in September, where the Haiti Outreach Program(HOP) was mentioned by keynote speakers Joia Mukerjhee (Cheif Medical PIH Officer) and Ophelia Dahl (PIH Executive Director) as a valuable partner. The symposium can be viewed freely here: http://www.pih.org/symposium

When asked how this partnership came about, Deacon Ben told me that when the program first began he asked the Haitian government to partner with HOP and in return received a letter from the Ministry of Heath which listed Dr. Paul Farmer as the Medical Director. Deacon Ben then researched this non-Haitian name and found out about PIH and the hospital Dr. Farmer had in Cange, called Zamni Lasante. This clinic was much closer to Boucan Care than the hospital to which they had previously been referring patients. Emails were sent to Dr. Farmer with no reply until patients started arriving at Zamni Lasante with slips of paper referring them to Dr. Farmer. When asked who they were sent by, patients spoke of the “blond from Knoxville,” or as we know him, Dr. Mire. Dr. Farmer then found Deacon Ben’s emails and the partnership began.

Dr. Mire and a team just went down for a week to work in Boucan Carre and Bouli. The board has been working on plans for the construction of a new clinic there as well which is now under construction and should be finished by February. That group returned on Thursday and Deacon Ben returned from a separate trip yesterday. Check back soon for news, reports, and photos from their trips!

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