This is a well-written book, and I found parts of it to be quite interesting. As much as I love to eat, I got tired of reading so many descriptions ofThis is a well-written book, and I found parts of it to be quite interesting. As much as I love to eat, I got tired of reading so many descriptions of food. This would be a good pick for a real foodie. (4/21/15)
I received an ARC from NetGalley! (3/19/15)...more
Not as pretty as Fodor's, but filled with well organized information. There are small maps inside, and I found the pull out map that came with the booNot as pretty as Fodor's, but filled with well organized information. There are small maps inside, and I found the pull out map that came with the book to be helpful. ...more
Before I left for the LaCroix Haiti New Testament Mission, I wanted to read some books about the Haiti and its history. My favorite book that I read wBefore I left for the LaCroix Haiti New Testament Mission, I wanted to read some books about the Haiti and its history. My favorite book that I read was Song of Haiti: The Lives of Dr. Larimer and Gwen Mellon at the Albert Schweitzer Hospital of Deschapelles by Barry Paris. The book is a biography of Larimer (Larry) Mellon and his wife Gwen, and as their lives become intertwined with Haiti and the Haitian people, the book explores the country and its history as well.
Larry Mellon was the youngest son of Pittsburgh financier William Mellon, and he once wrote that "there were times when I felt ashamed to be from a family that was known only for wealth." He eventually left the family business to become a rancher in the American West where he met and married his wife Gwen. Then in 1947 Larry read an article that would dramatically change the course of their lives. Life Magazine published a piece about Dr. Albert Schweitzer's work in Gabon, West Africa, in which Schweitzer said, "It struck me as incomprehensible that I should be allowed to lead such a happy life, while I saw so many people around me were wrestling with care and suffering." Those words touched Larry so deeply that at age 37 he decided to attend medical school and then open a hospital in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Larry and Gwen made a permanent move to Haiti, and Hôpital Albert Schweitzer opened in 1956.
A fellow doctor said of Mellon, “What surprised us when we became close to him was that a man like Dr. Mellon, so wealthy, had made a choice to come to Haiti. He could have done so many things in so many other places. But that simple life in the country, giving health to Haitians, meant more to him than anything else….He realized something very important: That curing the disease is fine, but if you go to the cause of the disease, it’s much better. That’s what gave him the idea of the community development projects.”
In addition to starting the hospital, the Mellons also started an elementary school and provided vocational training. They helped to build houses, dug wells to provide clean water, and built irrigation systems so that people could grow crops for food. Their desire to do all of this came from the Presbyterian faith. One of Larry Mellon’s associates said, “Dr. Mellon was very much impressed by the gospels, especially the passage in Mark where the rich man asks, ‘What should I do to get to heaven?’ and Jesus says, ‘Honor your parents, don’t steal – all the commandments.’ The man says, ‘I’ve been doing all this,’ so Jesus says, ‘Give all of your money to the poor and follow me.’ The man became sad and left. He could not separate himself from his riches.”
Unlike the rich man in the Bible, Larry and Gwen Mellon gave their entire fortune to the poor. They also gave their time and their love to the people of Haiti. As I read this book, I was struck by the similarities between Larry Mellon and Pastor Vaugelas Pierre who started the mission in LaCroix. Pastor Pierre is a humble man who is doing remarkable things for the people of Haiti. Like the Mellons, Pastor Pierre has been implementing community development projects for LaCroix and surrounding villages. In addition to building churches, schools, and medical clinics, he is also helping to build houses and wells so that people can have access to clean water. All that I saw in Haiti reflects the message that resonates in Song of Haiti, and that message is hope.