Excerpt taken from an article originally published in the National Catholic Reporter.
In 1983 Ophelia Dahl, the 18-year-old daughter of Academy Award-winning actress Patricia Neal and noted children’s author Roald Dahl (who wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the screenplay for the film adaptation “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”) met Paul Farmer, 23, a student about to begin medical school. They were both volunteers in Haiti, working among the poor. They returned to states, she to Wellesley College and he to Harvard Medical School. There, Paul met Jim Yong Kim, and along with Ophelia, they would talk about the connections they observed and believed between moral responsibility, social justice, human development and peace in poor countries.
Paul was so committed to medical work in Haiti that he would fly to the shared-island country every Thursday and return for classes on Sunday night. He also “borrowed” medical supplies from various hospitals to take with him on his medical mission trips.
By 1987, the three young people realized that a clinic was needed. Encouraged by a local priest, Fr. Fritz Lafontant, they chose the village of Cange to be the center of their mission. Then they needed money. They met investor Thomas White and his wife, who wanted to give away their money during their lifetime, and with help from fellow student Todd McCormack, now working in media, they began Partners in Health. Its mission? “To provide a preferential option for the poor in health care.”
“Bending the Arc” tells the story of this improbable organization and its remarkable work to bring health care to the people in developing countries.