A young woman strode to the podium, also dressed in pink. She spoke passionately about the difference a micro-loan had made in her life. She had bought a sewing machine and now was supporting her family. Confident, assured, the Haitian peasant eclipsed the billionaire and the First Lady. I glanced at Michel. How strange life is—what accidents create the rich and the poor, and is it justice or injustice that united the seamstress and the president’s wife? More importantly, the young woman’s impassioned speech convinced me that we had to think beyond health and start thinking about ways, such as micro-loans, that would address the underlying cause of most of the country’s problems—Haiti’s grinding poverty.
Afterward, I asked Ellen if it might be possible to meet the First Lady. “Sure, no problem! Just wait by the hospital entryway. We’ll have to pass through to get back to our cars.” It turned out that Ellen and Mrs. Clinton had been friends since college.
“You know,” I said to Michel as we waited for our big moment, “it was really nice for Mrs. Clinton to come here and do this. I mean, how many votes is she going to pick up by coming to Pignon?”
Just then, Ellen, Mrs. Clinton, her photographer, and the Secret Service entourage turned the corner. As promised, Ellen stopped and graciously introduced us.
“Thanks so much for caring about Haiti, Mrs. Clinton,” I gushed, starstruck as I shook her hand.
“Call me Hillary, please. And don’t thank me. It’s you two who are doing the work!”