Testimony of Dr. Paul Farmer to the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
27 January 2010
Thank you for inviting me to testify today before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. I speak as the U.N. Deputy Special Envoy for Haiti—President Clinton, as you know, is the Special Envoy—and also as a physician and teacher from Harvard who has worked for over twenty-five years in rural Haiti. Today, my hope is to do justice to Haiti not by chronicling the events of the past two weeks, which are well known to you, but by attesting to the possibility of hope for the country, and of the importance of meaningful investment and sustainable development in Haiti.
That said, I will not pretend that hope is not at times difficult to muster.
As I was flying from Port-au-Prince to Montreal on Monday, headed to a conference on coordinating responses to the massive earthquake, I did the painful math in my head and counted close to fifty colleagues, friends, and family members who had lost their lives in the space of a minute.
The afternoon of the earthquake, several of my colleagues from Partners In Health and the UN, were, ironically, in Port-au-Prince for a meeting about disaster risk reduction. Partners In Health, through its Haitian sister organization, provides health care to the rural poor. By focusing on training and employing local talent, we have grown a great deal over the years. We are currently serving a population of well over 1.2 million and count about five thousand employees, most of them community health workers.