My interest in Haiti began with listening to the audiobook Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder. This book has been described as “nonfiction that reads like fiction” because of its strong plot and readability. MBM tells the story of Dr. Paul Farmer who works in Haiti to provide health care for all in rural areas. In particular, he works to bring health to people with drug-resistant TB and HIV/AIDS. Prior to reading this book, my view on health care for others was to provide the greatest benefit for the lowest cost for the most people. An argument that I could have made was that in a country like Haiti, condoms and safer-sex education should be provided to all; however the expensive AIDS cocktails should not be provided to a few or all patients with HIV/AIDs because of the cost per person. After all, funds are not unlimited and we want the most people to benefit as possible. Farmer acts instead out of a sense of abundance that provides support and hope for all in his service area, which increases patient adherence to critical drug schedules. Another method that Farmer uses to increase compliance with complicated drug schedules is to provide personal, daily follow-up by clinic staff to ensure that barriers to compliance such as transportation are overcome.
The next book that I read about Haiti and the US was Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat. This memoir provides a personal look at Haiti, immigration to the US, health care, and US policies. Again, the personal view point made this book very readable, despite the difficult emotional topics addressed.
You may have guessed that I’m primarily a nonfiction reader. My enjoyment of Brother, I’m Dying led me to read Danticat’s fictional book Breath, Eyes, Memory. I use the words beautiful, good and enjoyable to describe books that are important to me, even though they may contain horrible and heartbreaking scenes. If you’re a reader who prefers rosier topics, keep this in mind with regard to my reviews. Danticat uses beautiful language in BEM to describe Haiti and I had the sense that I had walked down a warm, dusty Haitian road myself as I read it.
My education continued when Tammie Jo Berg of One Small Drop made a moving presentation at Scandinavia Public Library about her experiences in Haiti after the terrible earthquake of January 12, 2010.
I am now listening to the end of the audiobook Haiti After the Earthquake by Paul Farmer and others. The content and presentation is more academic than Mountains Beyond Mountains and some of the content is much more disturbing, so if you are just starting to learn about Haiti, you may want to start elsewhere. Despite this, the book contains a great deal of background information that explains why the earthquake in Haiti was so devastating compared to earthquakes of similar sizes in other regions of the world. In addition, the essays by Edwidge Danticat and others provide other facets of Haiti and the earthquake that are less academic and more personal in some ways.
I’ve decided to link book titles to my library catalog, InfoSoup. It’s not that I think that you necessarily have access to my library consortium, however hopefully it will inspire and provide you with the information needed to find the same book in your library. Another resource that I seriously considered linking to was LibraryThing. It’s a place to catalog your own books, rate and review them, and get suggestions (or unsuggestions) for other books. I love it.
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