+
Global health equity champion Paul Farmer was a great doctor, but an even better human being

The world bids a sad farewell to Dr. Paul Farmer, champion of global health equity.

You can often tell a lot about a person's life by how the world responds to their death. Over the weekend, when I started seeing a flood of social media messages from healthcare professionals that included words like "devastated" and "gutted," it was clear that someone of influence in the medical world had passed. I'm not in healthcare, but even I recognized Dr. Paul Farmer's name, largely from this quote of his:

"The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong in the world."

After spending decades working and living in various countries around the world, making sure people in underdeveloped nations had access to quality healthcare, Dr. Farmer passed away from an acute cardiac event in his sleep in Rwanda at age 62. His death was like a seismic event in the field of global health, launching a tsunami of grief and remembrance felt around the world, from heads of state who met with him to fellow physicians who worked with him to individuals whose lives he saved.


"It is hard to find the words to express the sad news of the passing of Paul Farmer—the person, the Doctor, the philanthropist. He combined many things hard to find in one person," wrote Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda.

Farmer was physician, a professor, an anthropologist and a fierce advocate for the world's poor. In 1987, he cofounded Partners in Health, one of the world's leading global health and social justice organizations dedicated to bringing high-quality healthcare to those who need it most. Farmer's philosophy was straightforward: The fact that poor people die of illness we have effective treatments for is unacceptable. Farmer's life's work was a testament to his belief that where you live and how much money you have should not determine your right to healthcare.

But Farmer's advocacy work was also much more personal than that. He didn't preach about global equity from atop an ivory tower; he worked on the ground, at the grassroots level, doing hands-on medical care in some of the poorest parts of the world.

Much of Farmer's work involved getting effective AIDS treatments to patients in Haiti and Rwanda in the face of pushback from those who felt it was too expensive or that cultural differences would get in the way. Farmer refused to accept inequity and did everything he could to alleviate it.

“Human rights violations are not accidents; they are not random in distribution or effect," he wrote in "Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights and the New War on the Poor." "Rights violations are, rather, symptoms of deeper pathologies of power and are linked intimately to the social conditions that so often determine who will suffer abuse and who will be shielded from harm.”

He was uncompromising in his belief that every human being, regardless of circumstances, should have access to the best healthcare humanity has to offer. Being born into or living in poverty does not give anyone less of a right to health, and if we have effective treatments for illness and disease, everyone should have access to them.

He touched countless lives—those he treated and those he accompanied in the field of service. Often it was people in the medical field he trained with, but he even inspired people outside of healthcare to use their privilege and know-how to better the lives of others.

When you pass away and everyone who met you has only the most glowing things to say about you, you know you've lived a good life. The world has lost not only a great doctor, but a champion of global health equity who serves as an example to us all.

"His vision for the world will live on through Partners in Health," Sheila Davis, Partners in Health CEO, wrote in a statement. "Paul taught all those around him the power of accompaniment, love for one another, and solidarity. Our deepest sympathies are with his family.”

Watch PBS News Hour's remembrance of Dr. Farmer below, and for more details of his extraordinary work, I highly recommend Tracy Kidder's profile of him in The New Yorker. The man was truly a legend of a human being in all the best ways possible.

Rest in peace, Dr. Farmer. Thanks for showing us how it's done.

Education

Teacher of the year explains why he's leaving district in unforgettable 3-minute speech

"I'm leaving in hopes that I can regain the ability to do the job that I love."

Lee Allen

For all of our disagreements in modern American life, there are at least a few things most of us can agree on. One of those is the need for reform in public education. We don't all agree on the solutions but many of the challenges are undeniable: retaining great teachers, reducing classroom size and updating the focus of student curriculums to reflect the ever-changing needs of a globalized workforce.

And while parents, politicians and activists debate those remedies, one voice is all-too-often ignored: that of teachers themselves.

This is why a short video testimony from a teacher in the Atlanta suburb of Gwinnett County went viral recently. After all, it's hard to deny the points made by someone who was just named teacher of the year and used the occasion to announce why he will be leaving the very school district that just honored him with that distinction.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

Tea time: how this boutique blends cultures from around the world

Ethically sourced, modern clothes for kids that embrace adventure, inspire connections and global thinking.

The Tea Collection combines philanthropic efforts with a deep rooted sense of multiculturalism into each of their designs so that kids can grow up with global sensibilities. They make clothes built to last with practicality and adventure in mind. But why "Tea"?

Let's spill it. Tea is a drink shared around the world with people from all different cultures. It is a common thread that weaves the world together. The Tea Collection was born from a love of travel and a love of sharing tea with different people in different places. Inspired by patterns from around the world, these clothes help children develop a familiarity with global communities.

Tea sources their materials ethically and ensures that each of their partners abide to strict codes of conduct. They have a zero-tolerance policy for anything "even slightly questionable" and make sure that they regularly visit their manufacturing partners to ensure that they're supporting positive working conditions.

Since 2003, The Tea Collection has partnered with the Global Fund for Children and has invested in different grassroots organizations that create community empowered programs to uplift kids in need. They donate 10% of their proceeds and have already contributed over $500,000 to different organizations such as: The Homeless Prenatal Program (San Francisco, CA, USA), Door of Faith Orphanage (Baja California, Mexico), Little Sisters Fund (Nepal) and others in Peru, Sri Lanka, India, Italy and Haiti.

But the best part about the Tea Collection? They're also an official member of the Kidizen Rewear Collective, which believes that clothes should stretch far beyond one child's use. They have their own external site for their preloved clothes that makes rewearing affordable. Families can trade in gently used Tea clothes and receive discounts for future products. Shopping the site helps keep clothes out of land fills and reduces the environmental impact of the fashion industry.

By creating heirloom style clothing made to last families can buy, sell, and trade clothes that can be reworn again and again. Because "new to you" doesn't always have to mean never been worn. And let's be honest, we all know how fast kids grow! Shopping preloved clothes is a great way to keep styles fresh without harming the environment or feeling guilty about not getting the most out of certain styles.

But don't just take our word for it! Head over to the Tea Collection and see for yourself!

Upworthy has earned revenue through a partnership and/or may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through links on our site.

Golden retriever has cutest reaction to sister walking.

Here at Upworthy we look for stories that will make you smile and warm your heart and, let’s face it, we could all use a little help in the smile department these days. When we ran across this ridiculously sweet story on The Dodo about a golden retriever and his little human sister, we simply had to share it with you. Taco is a 3-year-old golden retriever who has been lovingly waiting for his new baby sister, Vanora, to be able to play with him, and the day has finally come.

Keep ReadingShow less