During winter break of his first year at Einstein, second-year medical student Daniel Piqué took part in a medical mission trip to Haiti. The experience left an impression, as Mr. Piqué saw the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake that had devastated the tiny island nation.
"My eyes were opened to the possibilities of how others could help a poverty-stricken country in such a fragile state," he recalled.
In discussing his experience with his Einstein classmates, Mr. Piqué found other like-minded students—united in their belief of health as a human right—with whom he established For Here and for Haiti (FHFH).
"Our goal is to advocate global health unity in the Bronx and abroad," said Mr. Piqué.
To achieve their goal, FHFH hosts fundraisers to promote awareness of malnutrition and poverty in Haiti and in the Bronx. The group divides the funds it raises to support Partners in Health (PIH), for its efforts in Haiti, and the NYC Coalition against Hunger, for their work in the Bronx, as both agencies seek to address these critical health issues.
"We developed For Here and for Haiti as the local chapter for PIH Engage, a new grassroots branch of PIH that's now in its second year," explained Mr. Piqué who serves as Einstein's chapter coordinator.
"I first learned about PIH and its founder Dr. Paul Farmer when I read Tracy Kidder's Mountain Beyond Mountains. And when I heard about PIH Engage, I went to Boston to become a coordinator." Currently, there are approximately 50 communities nationwide that are involved in PIH Engage. Each September, community coordinators undergo training in Boston, where they learn the framework of PIH Engage's major principles: advocacy, education and fundraising.
For its introduction to the Einstein community, FHFH organized an inaugural Culinary Throwdown, a cooking competition in which members of the Einstein community were invited to compete and to help judge.
Nearly 100 people attended the cook-off, which featured more than a dozen cooks competing for best meat entrée, best vegetarian entrée, best dessert and "People's Choice Favorite" honors. Proceeds from the $800 raised during the event were divided equally between PIH and the NYC Coalition against Hunger.
"We hope that the Culinary Throwdown becomes an annual event that continues to promote awareness of the major hunger issues plaguing both the Bronx and Haiti," noted Elise Mike, a co-leader of FHFH. The group also aims to build a community that meets monthly to discuss relevant issues, such as language barriers in the Bronx, access to care for women, malnutrition and the lack of access to the latest technologies developed to combat some of these issues.
"It was important to have a dual fundraising effort in order to draw attention to the fact that the specific issue of malnutrition, along with the more general issue of poverty, is as widespread and severe in our local communities as they are in less developed parts of the world," said Ms. Mike.
Daniel Pique shares his personal passion for FHFH in a recent post on The Doctor's Tablet blog.
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