Study Guide

Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World

by Tracy Kidder

Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World Characters

Characters

Dr. Paul Farmer
Dr. Paul Farmer was born in 1959 into a middle-class family. He had five siblings and often helped his father earn money as a child. They moved frequently and even lived in Florida in a bus at one point. Paul did very well in school. He was very bright and received a full scholarship to Duke University, eventually graduating, and he later entered Harvard University, graduating with a medical degree and a PhD in anthropology. Although Dr. Paul Farmer has much to be proud of, he is a humble man who has worked diligently to help the poorest of poor in Haiti. Mountains Beyond Mountains highlights his life and the work he did—and continues to do—in Haiti.

Dr. farmer found himself in Haiti in 1983 while a student working in poor villages in the Central Plateau. Tracy Kidder met Farmer in 1983 while he was in Haiti and followed him around documenting his work with the villagers, which later culminated in Mountains Beyond Mountains.

In the book, Dr. Farmer's work in Haiti—and the passion with which he performs it—is explored and explained. He empathized with the poorest of Haiti and committed his life to seeking equal medical care for the poorest village in Haiti. They referred to him as "Doktè Paul," a saint in Haiti. After hist first stint in Haiti, he returned to Boston to earn his medical degree, but he never forgot the Haitians. He founded the charitable organization Partners in Health (PIH) to fund his project Zanmi Lasante, which includes a hospital for people in Cange, Haiti.

He married Dide Bertrand in 1996, the daughter of a Haitian teacher. He has spent his time traveling between Boston and Haiti for most of his life. When he is in Haiti, he helps the organization he founded; and when he is in Boston, he promotes his project in Haiti through fund-raising and networking with influential investors.

In 1991, when the Haitian army uprising deposed the government, Dr. Farmer could not go to Haiti for two months. He became depressed and wrote the book The Uses of Haiti to try and make people aware of the plight of the Haitians. He earned a MacArthur grant in 1993 for his dedication to humanity but he did not feel successful because the government was still persecuting the Haitians. Their poverty still existed while he was receiving accolades for his work. He was not at all comfortable with this situation.

He decided to focus most of his energy into influencing public health policy in the international arena. Later he received help from the Gates Foundation and the United Nations World Health Organization. In 1999, he was the subject of a profile in the New Yorker; then in 2003, Mountains Beyond Mountains by Kidder was released about him and his work.

Dr. Jim Kim
Dr. Jim Kim was born...

(The entire section is 1167 words.)