Partners In Health (PIH) received the NFord Family Notre Dame Award for International Development and Solidarity in a ceremony at the University of Notre Dame on April 27. 

Rev. Robert A. Dowd, CSC, director of the Ford Program, said PIH was honored “for more than 25 years of health care provided to the poorest of the poor; for addressing social and economic needs; for fostering local partnerships and strengthening the public sector; for sharing lessons learned; and for turning service and research towards advocacy and social justice.”

“PIH represents in their work the work of Christ,” said University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, CSC, who presented the Notre Dame Award with Dowd. “This is why we feel such an affinity for them, why their work touches us so deeply and inspires our students.” 

PIH Cofounders Paul Farmer and Ophelia Dahl accepted the award on behalf of their colleagues worldwide. Farmer said the recognition is “deeply gratifying” and affirming of a model that he believes research institutions will increasingly adopt.

PIH serves people who suffer from what Dahl describes as “relentless daily tragedies” and Farmer calls “grotesque privations.” Dahl and Farmer told students in a public address that standing in solidarity with the poor requires moving beyond sentiments of empathy toward more meaningful, long-term investments. Solidarity demands a careful examination of how our privilege and influence can serve others best. It requires imagination and persistent, sustained commitment.

The Ford Program, which hopes to “turn Notre Dame outward in new ways,” according to Rev. Dowd, emphasizes combining research and teaching with direct community engagement to address human development challenges. This emphasis led the Ford Program to honor PIH, whose similar holistic approach to human development has achieved international success. 

“PIH has refused to keep a safe distance. They are not afraid to get close to people in need,” said Rev. Dowd. “We honor them for the way they’ve inspired us to get close to people in need, to learn from them, and put our talents to their service.” 

ND-8, a Notre Dame student group dedicated to promoting the Millennium Development Goals, led fundraising efforts on behalf of PIH in the weeks leading up to the award ceremony. As an expression of the solidarity that exists on the Notre Dame campus, student representatives of the group presented Partners In Health with a $10,200 check for literacy programs in Haiti. 

Due to post-election violence that broke out in Belladere, Haiti, PIH lab technician Phyzeme Isly was killed in an arson attack. The unrest affected the entire community and disrupted the health care provided by PIH. Due to these sad and difficult circumstances, Loune Viaud was not able to join us.