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Statement by Dr. Rajiv J. Shah on the Death of Dr. Paul Farmer

The world is a more just place because of Dr. Paul Farmer, who passed away yesterday.

Paul led by example and inspired so many people, including those of us at The Rockefeller Foundation, to follow his vision of a world where every single person — no matter where they were born or how poor they may be — is treated with dignity. Paul showed the rest of us that it really is possible to lift up the lives of the most vulnerable people on earth with compassion and care. On behalf of everyone at The Rockefeller Foundation and on behalf of my family, I send my condolences to Paul’s wife Didi, their children, the team at Partners in Health, and the broad community of aspiring change-makers who counted Paul as a friend.

Paul was an icon for good reason. Forty years ago, he built — through sheer determination — his first clinic in Cange, a remote part of Haiti. In the years since, Paul never shied away from being in the community and at the clinic, whether in Haiti, Rwanda, Mexico, or the many other places around the world where he brightened so many lives. As a result, Paul saved many people and brought hope to many, many more.

Through it all, Paul’s compassion shone through. Whether caring for a patient, explaining a new initiative to a government or business leader, or giving advice to someone aspiring to a career like his, Paul always led, practiced, and taught with his heart. Along the way, he proved that humanity — that all of us — can do better. In doing so, he inspired a generation of people, at The Rockefeller Foundation and elsewhere across the world, to dedicate their lives to serving others.

As a leader, an advocate, and a friend, Paul was a part of The Rockefeller Foundation family. We will all miss his relentless optimism, his determination and intellect, his kindness and compassion. We will do our best to honor Paul’s memory by carrying forward his extraordinary mission with the humility, the compassion, and the love and respect for others he showed throughout his life.

Image via Partners in Health.