People like Paul Farmer, co-founder of Partners in Health, the subject of Tracy Kidder's Pulitzer Prize winning book Mountains Beyond Mountains. Just as a new, expanded edition of Mountains Beyond Mountains is released with updates on the progress of PIH, so is Tracy Kidder's new book Strength in What Remains another inspirational story.
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If you loved Mountains Beyond Mountains, here is another truly inspirational, heart-wrenching account of one man trying to overcome everything that stands in his way--everyone who would like to see him fail, if not dead--to help others in need.
Strength in What Remains is the story of Deogratias, a man from a small village in Burundi, one of the ten poorest countries in the world. Despite this, Deo was attending medical school when Civil War and genocide broke out in Burundi and neighboring Rwanda. I think Kidder puts it best:
When I first heard Deo’s story, I had one simple thought: I would not have survived. I hoped in part to reproduce that feeling in recounting what seems to me a rich tale: an adventure story, a survival story, an immigrant’s story, a story of despair and determination, of evil and kindness.Kidder (described by the Baltimore Sun as a "master of the non-fiction narrative") has accomplished what he set out to do. He deftly and masterfully describes Deo's terrifying run through fields and jungles, barely surviving his escape to New York. When he lands in America, he doesn't speak English and knows no one. Deo pushes on, delivering groceries and living in Central Park.
Deo's is a truly terrifying & powerful story, of what the human body & spirit can withstand. He now is helping the country that he left with Village Health Works whose motto is, "Where there is health, there is hope."
I don't really know how to end this other than saying that I think both Mountains Beyond Mountains & Strength in What Remains should be required reading for everyone. It would make us all a little more humble, a little kinder, and a little more considerate to those around us and those less fortunate than us.