Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Help Haiti by helping Dr. Paul Farmer's Partners in Health

Last week was an awful one for our community.

It started with a well-known osteopathic doctor shooting his wife and then himself, leaving their two children as orphans.

Later in the week, a former roofer was accused of killing his sister and another woman near Brooksville, then a Dixie County sheriff's captain.

A deep freeze devastated coastal fish populations and agricultural livelihoods.

Dwarfing even these events was the earthquake in Haiti that killed an estimated 45,000 to 50,000 people.

Is it a stretch to include that catastrophe as something that happened to us, to our county nearly 1,000 miles away and in the hemisphere's richest nation rather than its poorest?

When we're talking about levels of suffering, of course there's no comparison. But what about our responsibility to help — to take on their problems as ours?

The model here is Partners in Health, a health care organization cofounded by former Brooksville resident Paul Farmer. When PIH decides which patients to treat, political boundaries and distance are irrelevant. The only thing that counts is need. Translated to us, that means we should feel just as much for an orphaned child in Port-au-Prince as one in Spring Hill.

With the destruction of so much of Haiti's already inadequate medical infrastructure, "Partners in Health probably just became the largest health care provider still standing in all Haiti," author Tracy Kidder wrote last week in the New York Times.

PIH's nine hospitals, staffed with more than 100 doctors and 500 nurses, are all miles from the quake's epicenter and escaped major damage. The organization is working to set up emergency operations in Port-au-Prince, but in the meantime has established a triage center at its headquarters in Cange to deal with a stream of earthquake victims — patients with broken bones, deep cuts and even limbs severed by falling debris, said PIH spokeswoman Meredith Eves.

What does it need from us?

Money, of course, and urgently, to replace its rapidly diminishing stores of medicines and other supplies. An informal local group of Farmer's old friends, Partners for Paul, is working to collect donations. If you want to contact them, call Tricia Bechtelheimer at (352) 796-3519 or contribute to PIH directly by visiting its Web site: www.pih.org/home.html.

Kidder, in his column, also wrote that PIH might be the best model for rebuilding Haiti. The nonprofit group cooperates with organizations such as the United Nations — naturally enough because Farmer also serves as the U.N.'s deputy special envoy to the country — and with the Haitian government, strengthening it rather than circumventing it, as some other aid organizations do.

Kidder wrote an acclaimed book about Farmer, Mountains Beyond Mountains, and now serves on the PIH development committee. He's biased, in other words, but then again, so am I — and so, probably, are most of us.

It's natural to care a little less about far-away tragedies. Only a few exceptional characters can treat all suffering as universal. If we need a connection to Haiti — something to make Cange with its hospital full of earthquake victims feel like Brooksville's sister city — we have Farmer.

If we write PIH a check because we know, admire and trust him, well, that's fine, too.

Help Haiti by helping Dr. Paul Farmer's Partners in Health 01/16/10 [Last modified: Saturday, January 16, 2010 1:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Justin Timberlake in Super Bowl halftime show for first time since 'wardrobe malfunction'

    Celebrities

    Justin Timberlake has finally been invited back to the Super Bowl halftime show, 14 years after the "wardrobe malfunction" with Janet Jackson caused a national controversy.

    Singer Janet Jackson covers her breast as Justin Timberlake holds part of her costume after her outfit came undone during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston in 2004. The NFL announced Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, that Timberlake will headline the Super Bowl halftime show Feb. 4 in Minnesota, 14 years after the "wardrobe malfunction" with Janet Jackson cause a national controversy. [Associated Press]
  2. Here's what happened when 30 high school sophomores gave up their phones for a day

    K12

    LUTZ — They were everywhere at Steinbrenner High School. Teens with panic-stricken faces, furiously slapping one thigh, then the other.

    Grace Hayes, 15, left, and Kai'Rey Lewis, 15, talk and text friends after having a discussion about smartphone technology in Tiffany Southwell's English Literature class at Steinbrenner High last week. Southwell asked theme to give up their phones for a day and write about it. For Lewis, the ride home that day "was the longest bus ride in my life." [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  3. Cuban media treats visit by Tampa City Council as historic event

    Politics

    TAMPA — Delegations of one kind or another have been traveling from Tampa to Cuba for years, even before President Barack Obama took steps to normalize relations between the two countries in December 2014.

    A Tampa delegation to Cuba this week was featured prominently in reports by the state-run media in Cuba, including Granma. From left are Tampa City Council vice chair Harry Cohen, St. Petersburg City Council Chair Darden Rice, Tampa philanthropist David Straz and Tampa City Council Chair Yolie Capin.
  4. As the curtain rises on the Straz Center's biggest shows, the spotlight is on parking

    Transportation

    TAMPA — The Broadway Series, the most lucrative shows of the year for the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, start this week, and this year the center wants all the drama to take place on stage, not during the drive to the theater.

    With downtown Tampa getting busier at night and on weekends, city officials and administrators from the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts have been working on ways to unsnarl traffic and help visitors find parking when there are lots of events at the same time. CHRIS ZUPPA   |   Times (2009)

  5. OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times 
Casimar Naiboa pleads for help to capture the killer of his son, Anthony Naiboa. Naiboa, 20, was shot and killed near 15th Street N. and E. Frierson Avenue after getting off the wrong bus in Seminole Heights. A peaceful march that began on east New Orleans Avenue was held during the candlelight vigil for the three victims who were killed in the recent shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa on Sunday, October 22, 2017.