The title of Mountains Beyond Mountains is a metaphor of how life often brings us a challenge that we can overcome, but beyond that challenge there will always be others. In this case beyond mountains there are mountains.
For Paul Farmer his mountain is to provide health care to those who are less fortunate.
But for most of us, upcoming freshman at UT, our mountain is college. One mountain may be finding the right group of people, then studying, then passing classes, then learning how to balance time, and then maybe even homesickness. Most freshman will encounter these things at college, but we must learn to be like Paul Farmer and continue pushing forward no matter how many mountains we come across.
Since reading the book I decided to go onto the PIH website and look at what else they have accomplished since their original outreach in Haiti. Now PIH is serving in many more places throughout the globe including new operations in Africa. I thought it was very interesting that despite their constant issues with governments, politics, money, and other forces that they have continued their outreaches to even further countries. I’m sure Paul is even more busy flying back and forth and has quite a few more email’s now days. But even though he is more busy he never gives up on his goal to help other’s. His mountain beyond mountains.
Lima’s version of Partner’s in Health, Socios En Salud, has helped many people in the slums of Peru. It was where Farmer first had to deal with large amounts of drug resistant strains of TB and where the first large scale treatment of MDR took place, with about an amazing 83% cure rate.
Another one of the most moving moments from the book was when they took the trip into the Russian prison. I thought it was incredible how they had the people locked up down there dying with little to no help. It was immediately obvious that this was not an issue that Farmer would give up.
It proved to be one of the largest and worst strands of MDR-TB in the world, which PIH is still combating today.
Similar to Farmer’s goal of giving health care to the poor across the world, many college students have goals that may seem impossible as well, these could range from passing your chemistry class to becoming a world famous athlete; but we all must remember from Farmer’s example that nothing is impossible. Despite what everyone else may think or say we have the power to achieve our greatest goals in life. Even if you do not plan on becoming a doctor you can still apply Farmer’s determination to your life.
In the book many of the people Farmer comes into contact with shape many of the events in his life. Ophelia, Jim, Aristide, Father Jack, Tom White, Goldfarb, Didi, Serena, Tracy and all the others each have a strong impact on Farmer’s life. He did not get to where he is now alone. This is another lesson that we can learn from Farmer about college, that friends are key and many of the ones we make in college are ones we will have for our life, so we must choose wisely.
At first when I began this book I thought to myself “oh great another boring summer reading book.” But this turned out to be one that I actually enjoyed reading and was interested in finding out what Farmer would do next. Tracie Kidder did an excellent job in portraying the story of Farmer’s life. I am thankful that this book was chosen because although it may not seem apparent at first, many of the trials Farmer goes through will be similar to what we go through during our upcoming college years. I believe after reading this I am more inspired to attack any goal I have because I know that with determination I can achieve.