B: The Challenge of Global Health, Laurie Garrett, Foreign Affairs, 86:14 (2007)
Kidder, Mountains Beyond Mountains Part I, II,
? Required readings
Kidder, Mountains Beyond Mountains Part III, IV, V
Partners in Health website: www.pih.org
Reflection paper, 4 pages. Tracy Kidder has introduced us to Paul Farmer and his partners in this provocative biography. Global health pandemics are serious issues that have complex needs and treatment options. Based on prior readings and insights, how would you describe Farmer’s brand of humanitarianism in light of AIDS and TB treatments? Please choose one quote from Mountains Beyond Mountains in this reflection paper. Explain to me why you chose the quote and it’s significance to you. Next, chose one incident in the book to reflect upon. Did it surprise you, shock you, inspire you, keep you awake at night – whatever the reasons is that it stands out to you.
Based on this description pick a quote that best describes this person: I was only 3 years old when they came. My parents were nowhere in sight and only when I was forced from their house did I have a sense for the evil before me. The man I would later come to call “General” took my parents from me before my very eyes.
In retrospect, I think it’s easy to portend the inhumanity that followed the first of many vile visions I was forced to execute. But it affected me every time, no question. I learned to refill a bullet chamber instead of an ink cartridge. I mastered how to spray walls with lead before I could letter paper in ink. Is there any question why I exchanged errant shells for dimpled chads?
Worse than the experience of civil war is its grisly aftermath. Everyone wants to avenge their loss, many of which were committed by children who had yet to master the alphabet. The directors of the heinous crime we perpetrated as a generation have generally continued untouched and in many cases hold significant positions in the current power structures. Worse, was then going back to my old neighborhood. I tried to conceal what wasn’t already looted but with little luck. I was shunned by my own community, the worst shame in a close-knit African culture. Elders derided my shame and my peers projected their own vicious acts onto me. The A-Z of life had changed. The more youthful the visage, the more adult the carnage. And so it was. To many in North America, the stories of child soldiers are things they hear on the news or see on television. Since moving to the U.S in 2007 at the age of 14, I have had the opportunity to travel to many universities, high schools, and international conferences to let people see that there is a face, a name and an actual person behind the stories they’ve been hearing or reading on the news. The use of child soldiers is not a new phenomenon and despite efforts to stop the use of children on front lines these efforts haven’t been enough. As a former child soldier and now a university student in America it is my duty and responsibility to bring awareness to the issue and make sure what happened to me does not happen to any other children.
Childhood is often a time of growth and maturity, but my growth and maturation were not typical. At the tender age of 3 and a half, I was recruited to become a child soldier in the brutal civil war in my homeland Sierra Leone.
My experience as a young soldier has undoubtedly shaped my view of the world. I had to deal with the loss of my parents and then serve under the same men that took them away from me even after the other child soldiers and I found out our generals used us only to do away with us. Killers, gangsters, rapists and drug addicts surrounded me. I fought against my own people and spilled my own blood on my own soil, but I really had no choice in the matter. I was lucky to be alive. My life was like that for five horrible years.
They gave me a gun instead of a pen, they told me to do drugs instead of advising me to stay away from them, and they sent me out to kill or be killed instead of sending me to school. To the rest of the world, I was just that: a KILLER, a GANGSTER, and an ADDICT, yet I still felt that there was more for me to do than fight in the war that I had known all my life. The time to act on what I felt came suddenly when the civil war ended in Sierra Leone. Having known war all my life and having lived it all my existence, I now had an even bigger challenge. I had to live as a civilian.
Civilian life was just as difficult as the everyday brutality that had desensitized and de-humanized me, and it also presented many difficulties I was unprepared for. “Normal” could never describe my life and having to adjust to what was “normal” was hard. My transition to civilian life was made more difficult when the adults that I looked up to turned away from me. My community shunned former child soldiers. To make things worse, they gave us orders that we were not used to receiving. The grownups wanted us to conform to society’s expectations, but they had no expectations for us. Luckily, I was stubborn. I was stubborn with the knowledge that I could make something of myself and stubborn in the belief that there is no destiny; one creates his destiny. My community created a destiny for me, one that led to nothing but misery, but it was not the one I wanted for myself. Fortunately, I discovered organizations that were willing to do the necessary work the community had refused to do. I realized that there was a path to follow, one that would change my life. That path was an education.
I have made it a point to make something out of nothing, to carve a path where there was none, and to make somebody out of someone everyone expected to be nobody. By getting an education, I can not only better myself as a human being, but I can also serve as an example to those former child soldiers who were not as fortunate as I.
prior readings includes: Troust: On the Day that Everyone Ate
De Waal Famine Crimes, p. 159-190
B: De Waal Famine Crimes, p. 106-132
B: De Waal, “Rethinking Aid”
Shaping the Humanitarian World, Ch.5: “International Organizations”
Shaping the Humanitarian World Ch.6: “NGOs and private action”
Shaping the Humanitarian World Ch.3: “The globalization of humanitarianism”
Shaping the Humanitarian World Ch.4: “States as responders and donors”
B: Calhoun: ‘The idea of emergency’
B: ‘On Humanitarianism’
B: ‘What is Service Learning?’