This week, the world lost a humanitarian pioneer and beloved friend of Haiti, Dr. Paul Farmer. He was a dear friend of the late Father Jean-Juste and a supporter of the What If Foundation since its inception. Our founder Margaret Trost was deeply inspired by Dr. Farmer’s work and honored when he wrote the forward to her book “On That Day, Everybody Ate”.
“Paul was an extraordinary person who inspired me with all the ways he put love into action through his work at Partners in Health, his teaching, writing, and his tireless advocacy for the right to quality health care for all people. He and Father Jeri were good friends, which is how I first met him. I feel so blessed to have crossed his path. My heart breaks for the world to have lost such a great soul. I will always be inspired by his example of heart-led action to make a difference one person at a time and for his clear vision of a more equitable, just, and loving world.” – Margaret Trost, Founder, What If Foundation
Over the last several days, we have heard from many supporters expressing their deep sadness and sympathy for this unexpected loss. Dr. Farmer changed the world by showing the power of caring for those in need in a holistic way, with an emphasis on dignity and respect. His work highlighted the impact of social determinants of health, such as food security, as a reference point to provide effective care and support for those in need.
“You have to look at what’s happening to the patient in front of you and think about ways to address social disparities. If there’s food insecurity, then you provide food when you provide care. Or if patients drop out of treatment, you provide transportation to the clinic, or you send community health workers to the patient,” Dr. Farmer told NPR in a 2020 interview.
The individualized and comprehensive method in which Dr. Farmer approached his work reminds us to care about each person’s unique circumstances, ensuring consideration and attention to the social conditions which influence their lives. His approach reminds us of our collective responsibility to meet individuals and communities where they are. For What If Foundation, this approach serves as the backbone of our work as we support our Haitian partner, Na Rive, in the delivery of food, education and emergency assistance to those in need.
So many of us have been moved by Dr. Farmer, through personal interactions and unyielding inspiration, and we are profoundly saddened by his unexpected passing. His impact on the millions of lives he has changed will not be forgotten.
May Dr. Paul Farmer’s life and his legacy serve as an ongoing inspiration to all those working to create change in Haiti and throughout the world.
What If Foundation