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This Is a Soul: The Mission of Rick Hodes Hardcover – Bargain Price, April 13, 2010
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From the Back Cover
"Whoever Saves a Life, It Is Considered as If He Saved an Entire World"
Dr. Rick Hodes arrived in Africa more than two decades ago to help the victims of a famine, but he never expected to call this extremely poor continent his home. Twenty-eight years later, he is still there.
This Is a Soul tells the remarkable story of Rick Hodes's journey from suburban America to Mother Teresa's clinic in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. As a boy, Rick was devoted to helping those in need, and eventually he determined that becoming a doctor would allow him to do the most good. When he heard about famine in Africa, that's where he went, and when genocide convulsed Rwanda, he went into the refugee camps to minister to the victims. When he was told that Ethiopia was allowing its Jews to emigrate to Israel, he went to help. While there, he was drawn to Mother Teresa's mission in Addis Ababa. It was there that Rick found his calling when he began caring for the sickest children in one of the world's poorest countries. But he did more than that—he began taking them into his home and officially adopted five of them.
This Is a Soul is also a book filled with great joy and triumph. When Rick's kids return from surgery or life-saving treatments, he is exultant. "Seeing these people after surgery is like going to heaven," he says.
Marilyn Berger went to Africa to write about Dr. Hodes, but while there, she became involved with the story. When she came upon a small, deformed, and malnourished boy begging on the street, she recognized immediately that he had the exact disease Rick could cure. She took him to Rick, who eventually arranged for the boy to have a complicated and risky surgery, which turned out to be incredibly successful. The boy's story—intertwined with Rick's, and Marilyn's as well—is unforgettable in its pathos and subtle humor.
This Is a Soul is not just a story of the savior and the saved, it is a celebration of love and wisdom, and an exploration of how charity and devotion can actually change lives in an overcrowded, unjust, and often harsh world.--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Marilyn Berger is a contributing writer to the New York Times. She was previously a diplomatic correspondent for Newsday and the Washington Post, and was the United Nations correspondent for ABC News and the White House correspondent for NBC News. She was the moderator on the public affairs program The Advocates and anchored WNET's City Edition. She was the director of programs and public affairs for the Council on Foreign Relations. Her articles have been published in the New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, and New York magazine.
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Ms. Berger tries with not much success to find out what makes Dr. Rick tick. Why is he willing to do what he does year in and year out when he could have a lucrative medical practice in the U. S.? His own mother says that she hasn't the slightest idea how he got this way. And Ms. Berger opines that altruism was not imprinted on the DNA "as deeply on every individual as it was on Rick." An Orthodox Jew, Rick believes that God makes everything happen and gives many examples throughout the narrative to support his belief. But happily there is room for all, regardless of his or her religion, at Rick's Shabbat services where everyone joins hands and sings Pete Seeger's "If I Had a Hammer"-- somehow I suspect the recently deceased Mr. Seeger would approve-- and Rick sometimes dons a T shirt that reads "May the God of your choice bless you."
A particularly moving passage-- among many-- has to do with Rick's seeking guidance from the rabbi he had studied with in Maryland for advice when he was dispatched to Goma to treat the sick and dying from Rwanda. "'I wondered if I should give priority to children (the future of the country), or perhaps to parents (if they died, their children would become orphans). Should I give each person fifteen minutes of time? Should I ignore the elderly or people who would take a long time to save?'" The rabbi replied that he should not decide who to treat and who not to treat, that every life is precious.
Dr. Rick Hodes' story is one that the world should know about; Marilyn Berger has done a beautiful job of telling it. I cannot imagine anyone, having read it, who would not be profoundly touched.
*The title comes from Rick's insistence of sending a photo of the patient's face along with a photo of the back, x-rays and blood studies to doctors because he wants them to see that the patient is a human being. "'This isn't just a back. This is a soul.'"
Be warned! He is also honest, and calls out some charitable groups who are more adept at lining their own pockets than helping these people in need. He also has interesting observations about medical care in the US.
I hestitated giving the book 5 stars because, despite the compelling story, I wasn't fond of the writing, particularly in the last third of the book. For me, it just didn't flow well. However, the story is important to share - I am recommending it to everyone.
Dallas , texas
I am also excited that Marilyn Berger is coming to my community (West Palm Beach) in November, as the keynote speaker at our JCC Book Festival. I can't wait to meet her--and Have her autograph my copy of this wonderful book!
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like Dr. Hoades.
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