Dr. Jim Yong Kim with Melquiades Huauya Oré, a TB patient in Peru, in “Bending the Arc”

Patheos—“Bending the Arc”: Changing the World, One Patient at a Time

Toward the end of Bending the Arc, an invigorating new documentary about the worldwide organization Partners in Health (PIH), one of its co-founders Jim Yong Kim states that “optimism is a moral choice.”  This hopeful 34 year history of PIH amply illustrates this contention and should revitalize many an activist.

I first became acquainted with PIH through Tracy Kidder’s equally inspiring 2003 biography (Mountains Beyond Mountains) of another co-founder, Paul Farmer.  Like Kidder’s book, Bending the Arc serves as a great introduction to the work and key players behind PIH, as well as filling in the intervening history for readers of Mountains Beyond Mountains.

Bending the Arc largely follows a chronological path, opening in 1983 with the meeting of two idealists in Haiti.  Ophelia Dahl was an 18 year old on an ophthalmology mercy mission; Paul Farmer was a 23 year old pre-med student helping out in a clinic.  Both saw a gaping need and committed to offering quality medical treatment to the destitute of Haiti’s central plateau.

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