Remembering and honoring “a brilliant shining star”


Remembering and honoring
"a brilliant shining star"

By Louise Ivers


Dr. Josue Augustin

The following is a eulogy for Dr. Josue Augustin, delivered at a funeral service on September 8, 2009.

We are angry. we are confused. We don’t understand. We can’t talk, or work, or sleep.

It doesn’t make sense to us that a brilliant shining star that was Dr Josue Augustin should be extinguished. We can’t believe it yet.

It’s not fair that he is not here in our midst, it’s not fair that he is not with his family or telling jokes in the yard at Cange or that he will never meet one of his children. For a person who saved the lives of thousands of patients to lose his life early makes it seem as though there is no justice at all in the whole world.

In areas where a lot of people said that its not possible to give healthcare and where many people say that its not even worth trying, Dr Josue had a mission. He was our rock in PIH in a movement to give quality surgical care to the destitute poor. Despite all that he could have asked of them, Dr Josue was a rare jewel that never asked his patients to pay one goud for him to operate on them. He didn’t want to sell health. He didn’t want people to die because they had no money. He served the poor, he followed his mission with grace, with humility and with the respect and love of each of his colleagues.

Show me another surgeon like him, another person like him, because I haven’t met them yet.

For me, Josue was a colleague and a friend that I could count on in the battle we are in. The battle that I’m talking about is to give services to the poor, with our limited resources in rural areas. Sometimes in that work we feel that we are alone in the dark. The work is long and difficult. But we found in our Josue, a person who wanted to carry a candle in that darkness . And not just carry it, but he wanted to share the flame with all of us, so we all could see more clearly, for our own candles to burn brighter. In that way, we at PIH had the feeling that we were not alone in the dark. We had his solidarity. He was our family.

As a foreigner working in the central plateau, on the days that I feel that I am too tired or on the days that I feel that I cant continue this difficult work, I look in the eyes of people like Josue – a proud Haitian, a strong Haitian, that wants to change his country – and I take from that energy. The energy for his people. I feel inspired by Josue's work and his mission, with the way that he worked, tirelessly to construct something so that he could ensure that his mission was accomplished.

But I am not standing here today to talk on my own behalf only. I am here to represent PIH - Dr Paul, Ophelia, Joia and all of the staff in 8 countries where PIH works that all sent messages of support and solidarity for Josue’s family during these difficult days. Because Josue’s reach didn’t end in the plateau central or in Haiti. Messages came from Europe, USA, Rwanda, Burunid, Mexico – everywhere that there is PIH there are people that he inspired and there are people who loved him. In these coming days, the big family that is PIH all over the world are standing at your side. They are the ones holding the candle for you, that want to show their solidarity for you and, especially for Josue’s family they want to shed some light.

And in our anger and our frustration I wish today that we remember Josue’s life and not just his death. I want to remember what he said with his life, t he way that he lived it. He stood up for those that are the most destitute, people who have nothing. He did this with grace and humility.

However, we won't forget either how his life ended. PIH and ZL have and will continue to give full support to the authorities of the state. I personally have spoken already with the police, minustah and crime experts in Boston so that we can try to understand the truth of what happened to our friend.

Berline, Aurelie, friends, colleagues, Jouse’s family that you have our unconditional support in the investigation. There is no limit on that. Our eyes are not closed, our ears are listening. If we haven’t spoken loudly yet this week its only because we are waiting for some answers and for things to become a little clearer. To Josue’s family- we are here for you, and we will continue to support and help you.

Today, let us remember Josue’s life. Let us remember the light that he shone. With all of his humility, with all of his heart, with all of his energy, with all of his sacrifice he had a mission. Our obligation now at PIH is to ensure that his mission lives on. Our obligation is to keep his memory and his honor alive and for us to ensure that although he is not physically with us, his image, his work continue and his battle is not lost.

We owe him that, he deserves so much more even than that. This way, Josue will always be alive.

If you would like to contribute to a memorial fund to support Josue’s family and the legacy of his work, please visit:

If you would prefer to donate by mail, send a check with "Dr. Josue Augustin" in the memo line to:

Partners In Health
P.O. Box 845578
Boston, MA 02284-5578

More news about Dr. Josue

[posted September 2009]