Good People Doing Good Things — Two Humanitarians

The first of today’s ‘good people’ comes from our friend John Howell in his post of last Friday.

One man decided to do something …

A former UK Royal Marine has loaded a 16-seater minibus with sleeping bags, pillows, and toys for refugees moving across the Ukrainian border into Poland and pledged to drive 1,000 miles to personally deliver them.

31-year-old Tom Littledyke from Lyme Regis began his journey on February 28th, saying he was inspired to act after seeing pictures of “families broken and separated by the conflict.”

Setting up a fundraiser, it took Littledyke just twelve hours to fill his minibus with supplies and collect £4,000 in donations ($5,300) for the trip.

“Too often do we think that we have to do something grand, and if it can’t be grand, what’s the point,” he told the BBC. “It doesn’t matter what we do as long as it’s something in the right direction. There’s so many of us who want to help. It will all build to this gigantic thing.”

The 1,000 mile (1,600 km) drive will take him and his cargo through England, France, Germany, and Poland before arriving at the border with Ukraine, where an alleged 500,000 refugees have fled. After unloading the supplies, he plans to utilize the bus to give rides to people who have a place to stay.

Littledyke’s partner will hold down the fort in his absence, which consists of two pubs and an Italian restaurant.

While it is said that war is hell, Good News Network knows that during times when the capacity for human malevolence is greatest, the capacity for compassion is greater.

The good news here is one man decided to do something to help Ukrainians. Today’s JohnKu reminds us to think of those in need. I hope you have a super weekend, and maybe you can think of a small way to help.

Little Acts by John W. Howell © 2022

Big efforts to help,

Can also use the support . . .

Of little kind acts.

He just wanted to help people …

Dr. Paul Farmer died at the age of 62 on February 21st of an “acute cardiac event”.  Who is Paul Farmer, you ask?  He was a physician, anthropologist and humanitarian who gained global acclaim for his work delivering high-quality health care to some of the world’s poorest people.  He died on the grounds of a hospital and university he had helped establish in Butaro, Rwanda.

Dr. Farmer attracted public renown with “Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World,” a 2003 book by Tracy Kidder that described the extraordinary efforts he would make to care for patients, sometimes walking hours to their homes to ensure they were taking their medication.

He was a practitioner of “social medicine,” arguing there was no point in treating patients for diseases only to send them back into the desperate circumstances that contributed to them in the first place. Illness, he said, has social roots and must be addressed through social structures.

His work with Partners in Health significantly influenced public health strategies for responding to tuberculosis, H.I.V. and Ebola. During the AIDS crisis in Haiti, he went door to door to deliver antiviral medication, confounding many in the medical field who believed it would be impossible for poor rural people to survive the disease.

Though he worked in the world of development, he often took a critical view of international aid, preferring to work with local providers and leaders. And he often lived among the people he was treating, moving his family to Rwanda and Haiti for extended periods.

Said Dr. Rochelle Walensky of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) …

“There are so many people that are alive because of that man.”

And it is said that the esteemed Dr. Anthony Fauci broke down in tears when he heard of Dr. Farmer’s death, saying …

“When you talk about iconic giants in the field of public health, he stands pretty much among a very, very short list of people. He called me his mentor, but in reality he was more of a mentor to me.”

In 2020, when he was awarded the $1 million Berggruen Prize, given annually to an influential thought leader, the chairman of the prize committee said Dr. Farmer had “reshaped our understanding of what it means to treat health as a human right and the ethical and political obligations that follow.”

Dr. Farmer, who never settled into the easy life of an elder statesman, was vigorously involved in the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, prodding the Biden administration to drop intellectual property barriers that prevented pharmaceutical companies from sharing their technology.

“It’s not just about health security, in the senses of defending yourself. It’s not just about charity, although that’s not so bad. It’s also about pragmatic solidarity with those in need of assistance.”

After graduating from Duke University, he moved to Haiti, volunteering in Cange, a settlement in the central Artibonite plateau of the country. He arrived toward the end of the dictatorship of Jean-Claude Duvalier, when Haiti’s hospital system was so threadbare that patients had to pay for basic supplies, like medical gloves or a blood transfusion, if they wanted treatment.

In a letter to a friend, he wrote that his stint at the hospital wasn’t turning out as he had expected …

“It’s not that I’m unhappy working here. The biggest problem is that the hospital is not for the poor. I’m taken aback. I really am. Everything has to be paid for in advance.”

And so, Dr. Farmer decided to open a different kind of clinic. He returned to the United States to attend Harvard Medical School and earn a degree in anthropology, but he continued to spend much of his time in Cange, returning to Harvard for exams and laboratory work.

Over the years, Dr. Farmer raised millions of dollars for an ever-expanding network of community health facilities. He had a contagious enthusiasm and considerable nerve. When Thomas J. White, who owned a large construction company in Boston, asked to meet him, he insisted that the meeting take place in Haiti.

Mr. White eventually contributed $1 million in seed money to Partners in Health, which Dr. Farmer founded in 1987 along with Ophelia Dahl, whom he had met volunteering in Haiti; a Duke classmate, Todd McCormack; and a Harvard classmate, Dr. Jim Yong Kim.

The clinic in Haiti, at first a single room, grew over the years to a network of 16 medical centers in the country, with a local staff of almost 7,000.  Partners in Health also expanded into Rwanda, where Dr. Farmer helped the government restructure the country’s health system, improving health outcomes in areas like infant mortality and the H.I.V. infection rate.

This was a man who spent his life caring for people, who helped people in need wherever they were.  He did not worry about how much money he could make or country club memberships or owning a million-dollar home … he just wanted to help people.

30 thoughts on “Good People Doing Good Things — Two Humanitarians

  1. Sorry for the delay Jill. I seemed to have skipped a chunk of posts.🤔
    Thanks for sharing with us, some more of the quiet heroes
    Tom Littledyke’s efforts are wonderful, also is the fact he enthused many people to help in their own way.
    Dr Farmer I suspect might have lived longer if he had opted for a ‘quieter’ life. A man who laid down that life for others…..No greater love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I thought John’s poem was just perfect! I’m glad you enjoyed this week’s ‘good people’ … I think we all need to be reminded occasionally that there are good people out there, that not everybody is a greedy arsehole! xx


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