This was a book I borrowed from a schoolgirl in Columbus, Ohio. She has a dream of becoming a doctor and I was curious to know what she was reading. I picked three titles from her home library and ‘Mountains Beyond Mountains’ was the first one I read. Quite predictably, it was a version adapted specially for kids. The original book was authored by Tracy Kidder and published in 2004. Michael French was responsible for the adapted version.
The book is about a medical man with a noble mission. Dr. Paul Farmer, born in America in humble circumstances, goes to Duke university on a scholarship and chooses his life’s work in disease ridden Haiti, one of America’s poorest neighbours. He works and travels 24/7, treating patients, raising funds, and convincing global opinion makers that the poor must have options too, that healthcare would be ineffective if it targeted only the wealthy.
The book traces the amazing journey of an amazing individual, an inspiring saga of energy, enthusiasm and professional excellence. It’s a MUST READ for any one who has interest in the medical profession.
Paul Farmer and some of his most committed team members go on to found Partners in Health (PIH), a non-profit organization that combats diseases such as TB, AIDS and malaria in far flung places such as Peru, Kazhakhstan, Russia, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Malawi, Lesotho and Rwanda.
The book introduces us to many interesting personalities. Tim White is the ultimate philanthropist who supports Farmer’s ventures until he is down to his last penny. Jim Yong Kim, who partnered with Farmer to found Partners in Health is now President of the World Bank. Didi Bertrand is the Haitian woman who marries Farmer and shares his vagabond lifestyle while bringing up the children. She lived in Paris for years before moving to Rwanda with her husband. Ophelia Dahl, daughter of Oscar-winning actress Patricia Neal and celebrated author Roald Dahl, meets Farmer in Haiti when she was just eighteen. She finds her calling and becomes one of the prime movers behind PIH.
Overall Assessment: Great story, great subject, but a bit laboured.
Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World
AUTHOR: Tracy Kidder (Adapted for Young People by Michael French)
PUBLISHER: Random House
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2004
Contributor: Pushpa Kurup lives in Trivandrum, India and works in the IT sector.