Partners in Health (PIH) is an NGO that was founded in 1987 in Boston. The organization originally developed as a community health project in Haiti, and since then has expanded with multiple other sites in Haiti as well as sites in a dozen other countries. The main goals of the organization are: providing health care and education to those most in need, working to alleviate the causes of disease, and sharing the ideas and lessons learned from experiences with other countries and NGOs. PIH also trains members of the community and partners with public health systems to involve local people in their initiatives.
Definition of Problem
One of PIH’s principal ideas is the approach to service through accompaniment. The accompaniment approach to aid delivery is based on pragmatic solidarity with the poor. It proposes to build a different long-term relationship between partners and mandates walking side by side rather than leading.
This model informs all that PIH does, including the way in which PIH uses funds to invest in the local community and meets the needs identified by local people. PIH believes that this idea — “from aid to accompaniment” – needs to become a much great part of the dialogue on international development. We hope to build awareness of this idea, and see how it can be integrated into the work of other organizations.
Initial Steps and Options
- Identify key principles of the concept “aid to accompaniment”: How might aid be invested on the local level to improve public services, accompany governments, create jobs, and directly empower the people?
- Promote awareness of this concept on a wider scale. How can other development organizations effectively be partners in promoting the idea of accompaniment? What are the most effective modalities to help build a “social movement” around this idea? What similar language/themes are used by other organization to convey similar concepts to accompaniment?
- Focus on particular opportunities related to Notre Dame, that include the publication of a book in the early fall 2013 by Orbis Press called In the Company of the Poor: Conversations with Dr. Paul Farmer and Fr. Gustavo Gutiérrez, possibility of a conference on the topic, engagement of faculty and staff.