PIH Staff Picks: Essential Reading and Watching As You Stay At Home

Posted on May 21, 2020

As Partners In Health staff continue the organization’s vital work of strengthening health systems around the world—a mission that’s especially critical amid COVID-19—they’re drawing inspiration from a host of books and films. These stories of strength, struggle and perseverance reflect the passion for social justice that lies at the core of PIH and its work. PIHers around the world contributed to this list of recommended books and films—stories that uplift us during these uncertain times and shine a light on the challenges that they bring. We hope they can inspire and inform you, too.

Directed by Nadia Hallgren

“An inspiring, joyful, honest, behind-the-scenes look at Michelle Obama’s book tour—this is a “must see” for all! I enjoyed reading the book. Seeing this behind-the-scenes account was even more inspiring. As we are faced with so much negativity and adversity around us, Ms. Obama brought hope and inspiration to my heart and soul!  A very inspiring & uplifting documentary. If you have the opportunity to watch, please do!”

—Mary Cooper, Accounts Payable Accountant, Finance

The Undocumented Americans
Written by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio

“I’m currently reading The Undocumented Americans—a beautiful, raw and, above all, honest account of what it means to be an undocumented person in America. Through a series of essays covering over a decade of reporting, Karla Cornejo Villavicencio tells the stories of people who are all too often absent from journalism and writing about immigration today. There are the “second responders,” undocumented workers who responded to 9/11, stories of underground pharmacies/botanicas in Miami catering to persons whose legal status blocks them from receiving adequate medical care, the struggle for acknowledgment—and clean water—via a state ID in Flint, Michigan. Through it all, she weaves her intensely personal story of struggles with mental health, love, life and hope as an undocumented American. Inspiring and highly recommended.”

—Matias Iberico, COVID-19 Strategic Planning Coordinator, Compañeros en Salud (PIH in Mexico)

LAVIL: Life, Love and Death in Port-au-Prince
Edited by Peter Orner and Evan Lyon

“Through the direct voices of residents of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, you can hear a heartwarming message of courage, hope, pride and determination. With the struggle, crises and hardship they have been through, that message that couldn’t be any more relevant for me as a reader than during this pandemic craziness.”

—Jean Claude Mugunga, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Population Health Planning and Financing

The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl
Written by Timothy Egan

“A powerful and highly engaging narrative about the Dust Bowl, Egan’s work tells the tale of the people who stayed and survived in Oklahoma through the 1930s. A tribute to their courage and the power of the human spirit, this book is also a frightening documentary of the damage that misguided government policy can do to an ecosystem, public health, and society itself.”

Andy Wilson, Chief Development Officer, Development

Directed by Rachèle Magloire & Chantal Regnault

“This interesting documentary touches upon social justice, immigration, culture and identity. The film follows several Americanized Haitians—who have never been to Haiti and are unfamiliar with the culture and language—before and after their deportations, capturing their struggles as they try to adapt to their new environments. Deported highlights the discriminatory policies within the American justice system toward foreign residents with minor offenses. Today, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, ICE continues to deport Haitians—some who have tested positive for the virus—putting the Haitian population at higher risk for transmission. This is a growing concern among human rights advocates as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Haiti."

—Coralie Noisette, Senior Development Officer, Zanmi Lasante (PIH in Haiti)


On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal
Written by Naomi Klein

"This collection of longform essays by journalist and non-fiction author Naomi Klein offers a detailed, powerful, and accessible account of the climate crisis, possible solutions, and its inevitable effects upon all members of society, but particularly on the most marginalized. With an eye toward the systems and practices that have created this crisis, Klein captures the deep-seeded need to fight this issue, not just for Earth, but for ourselves.  As we face a crisis of our own that requires sacrifice, expert consultation, and broad cooperative action, Klein's viewpoint and catalyzing words hopefully will serve for inspiration to come out of the COVID-19 crisis with a mindset toward rebuilding our systems with a sustainable focus.”

—Will Cleveland, Liaison Officer and Partnership Coordinator, UGHE, Rwanda

Long Way Down
Written by Jason Reynolds

“This book simply demands that you give it your full attention and read it cover to cover in one sitting. Written in verse, Long Way Down melds the power of poetry with the capacity to cultivate compassion in a way that is unique to narrative storytelling. Touching on the themes of racial justice, courage, and resilience, this book will leave a lasting imprint in your mind and heart.”

—Lauren Spahn, Senior Advisor to the CEO

Dr. Paul Farmer sharing a friendly moment with one of his staff.

Paul's Promise

As we mourn the passing of our beloved Dr. Paul Farmer, we also honor his life and legacy.

PIH Founders - Jim Kim, Ophelia Dahl, Paul Farmer

Bending the Arc

More than 30 years ago, a movement began that would change global health forever. Bending the Arc is the story of Partners In Health's origins.

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