A week ago, we were thrilled to realize an effort we launched earlier this year to bring a topic of global impact to our local community in DC. Our public discussion with Dr. Paul Farmer, author of the new book, Haiti After the Earthquake, in partnership with the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, reached beyond the 600+ audience who started their Monday morning bright and early in the Amphitheater.
Dr. Jon LaPook, medical correspondent with CBS news was the event moderator, and used the metaphor of Haiti as a “patient” to ask Dr. Farmer about his new book and his work in Haiti with the organization he co-founded almost 25 years ago, Partners In Health. Dr. Farmer discussed what he views as the two big challenges of relief and reconstruction: helping individuals in need; and at the same time, building up public health, public education, and other systems that help everyone – a term he calls, “accompaniment.”
An astounding data point shared by Dr. Farmer is that the government infrastructure budget of Haiti is less than the budget of the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts. In expressing the importance of enabling a sustainable Haitian infrastructure to work while providing aid, Dr. Farmer also said that there is approximately one NGO (non-governmental organization) or aid organization for every 1,000 Haitians.
Dr. Farmer’s discussion with Dr. LaPook was live-tweeted, with the help of social media journalist, Jaclyn Schiff, and highlights can be found on Storify. Some in the near sell-out crowd stayed for five hours to have Dr. Farmer sign each book and to have a personal conversation with him. The event was live-streamed by C-SPAN Book TV, and will be online soon. PBS News and the Washington Post were also present. More photos and links to coverage can be found at www.hooksbookevents.com.