Thursday, June 30th, 2016
By: Mark Brender
One of the great privileges of working at Partners In Health is finding wisdom and inspiration everywhere. Last week I had the chance to meet with two of our wonderful donors, a retired couple living in small-town southwestern Ontario. I provided an update on PIH Canada’s activities over the past year, and their generosity—coupled with their unrelenting insistence to know that good is being done in the world—will give me motivation for weeks to come.
The wisdom also comes from within the organization, the endless nuggets of brilliance from people who have committed their lives to social justice work. For example, Paul Farmer’s counsel to understand whether someone is asking a question to start a conversation or to end one; it’s the best way to ensure we’re spending our time actually making things better. Dr. Farmer has been talking about this for many years and it’s as relevant today as it ever was.
It’s hearing @JoiaMukherjee speak of women’s health or social movements, and using what she has learned from her patients to challenge the status quo and take on the world. Or listening to Dr. Michelle Morse discuss social medicine. (The same goes for some amazing work being done right here in Toronto, namely the brilliant poverty-fighting medicine practiced by @Gary_Bloch and colleagues at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.)
The ultimate inspiration is always seeing the work in the field, which is why I’m so looking forward to visiting one of our sites next week. The Companeros En Salud team in Chiapas, Mexico is hosting a PIH cross-site community health dialogue made possible through a partnership with Partners In Health Canada and Samuel Family Foundation. Community health colleagues from our sites in Haiti, Peru and Navajo Nation will be coming to Mexico for five days of friendship, exchange, information sharing and best practices around the role of community health workers in fostering social connectedness. For some of the participants, it will be their first time on a plane and being out of their own country.
I’m looking forward to being with them and to listening and learning. We’ll use results from the dialogue to further document the impact of their work, to advocate for the critical role CHWs play in a strong health system, and to generate new resources to support them. I’ll be back in touch in a few weeks to let you know how it went.
Mark Brender is National Director of Partners In Health Canada