doctors without borders

In 2011, 39 year old Prisca enrolled as a patient in the MSF HIV/AIDS project in Zimbabwe. She was diagnosed with HIV in 2008 and became pregnant by her second husband in 2010, whom she had met at the project. She named her daughter, Shamiso and gave birth in January of 2011. In Shona, one of the widest spoken languages in Zimbabwe, Shamiso means ‘miracle’. And a miracle she was. When tested, Shamiso’s tests came back with a result that truly shocked Prisca – HIV negative. Because of that, Prisca even thought of having a second child with her husband.

Now Shamiso is 5 years old and is a fully healthy and functioning child, even attending school. 

“I had not known about MSF’s HIV program before I went and got tested but when I tested positive, I followed all the instructions I was given, but I still thought my child would be HIV positive. I had lost all hope but I got assistance and through that, I was able to give birth to an HIV negative child.”

These are the dramatic photos coming out of the Mediterranean.

Despite winter weather and rough seas, migrants and refugees are continuing to attempt the perilous crossing from Libya to mainland Europe.

Photographer Kevin McElvaney documented a few night rescues. It’s January and almost everyday our search and rescue ship assists a new boat.

A crew member from the jointly operated MSF - SOS Mediterranee vessel MV Aquarius collects life jackets from a small wooden boat after a successful rescue operation.

In 2016, Doctors Without Borders teams on board of Dignity, Bourbon Argos and Aquarius (in partnership with SOS Mediterranee) have directly rescued 21,603 people and assisted 8969, a total of 30,572 in more than 200 different operations.

May 2017 bring #safepassage and a place to call home for those fleeing war, violence and despair. 

Parwez (age 15)

“I come from Nangarhar in Afghanistan.

I’m travelling with my cousin - it’s just the two of us now. I’m 15 and my cousin is 16. My father was with us too, but we lost him on the way, in the forest on the border between Iran and Turkey. The police fired on us, and I don’t know where my father went. After that, we moved on to Bulgaria and to Serbia.

My father always told me: ‘You have to be strong because the way that we are going is very hard. Your life is in danger, you have to leave Afghanistan.’

We’ve been here in Belgrade for 12 days. We’re sleeping in an old train station, in a big hall. It’s not good at all, it’s too smoky. We don’t have clean water to drink. At 1PM, volunteers come and give us food, and sometimes we also eat eggs.

Before we left, my father said: ‘There’s no peace here, there’s only war, that’s why we have to go.’

My father had been to France before his job. When we left, I expected that we’d go to France and that there’d be no war.

I feel like I don’t have any chance. I told the authorities that I want to go to one of the camps [in Serbia]. They told me that I can go to a closed camp, but I don’t want to live like that. I’d like to go to an open camp.

The way we have been treated makes me feel really sad. I don’t like politicians – it’s because of politicians that we are stuck here.

It wasn’t a good situation in Bulgaria. The police came, and they beat me. Here in Serbia, a lot of organisations are helping us. But the weather is too cold.

My family are still in Afghanistan. Sometimes I talk to them on the phone.

I’m really sad now because my mother isn’t here, I don’t have my family, it’s not a good life. When I sleep at night, I always cry. I say to my cousin: ‘Where is my mother, where is my father, where is my family?’”

Doctors Without Borders Staffers Were Shot While Fleeing Hospital Bombed By U.S.
That revelation and more were in the Doctors Without Borders internal report on the Kunduz Attack, released Thursday. More than 30 staff and patients were killed during the U.S. airstrikes.
By Jessica Simeone

Doctors Without Borders staff made several distress calls to both U.S. and Afghan officials while the facility was being bombed. The initial call was placed at 2:19 a.m. By 2:52 a.m. a reply from Resolute Support was received, saying, “I’m sorry to hear that, I still do not know what happened.” The hospital staff sent another message, insisting the strikes stop and were told “I’ll do my best, praying for you all.”

Badly injured staff members fled the building including one nurse who was “covered head to toe in debris and blood with his left arm hanging from a small piece of tissue…” and another who was bleeding out of his left eye. That’s when staff say that gunfire hit them, most likely coming from a plane.

In Belgrade, about 2,000 people, mainly from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Syria, are currently sleeping in abandoned buildings in the city center, while temperatures plummet far below freezing.

We are witnessing the most cruel and inhumane consequences of European policies, which are being used to deter and victimize those who are only seeking safety and protection in Europe

since we’re on the topic, imo médicins sans frontièrs/doctors without borders is really one of the best charities to donate to; they send medical staff to disaster zones all over the world (ranging from wars to natural disasters), or just any place that needs help. they provide emergency and also basic healthcare services. they also have an approach that focuses on training local medical staff, rather than just passing donations to other contractors who then take further cuts (coughARCcough). they have also been speaking up about things like the profiteering in the pharmaceutical industry. i’ve been donating to them for a while & my family doc has volunteered with them a number of times. they’ve also been sending me newsletters showing the latest work they’re doing and how to help. they’re a good charity to donate to if you’re able to spare some money. 

Meet Sarmad, 23, from Iraq.

Sarmad left his country because of the security situation. He lived in Turkey for a short time but decided to try and reach Europe.

He has lived inside Moria camp for the past eight months and he works as a barber to collect some money to live.

“… I am not talking only about myself, I am talking about all the refugees. Their life is difficult here, you can see, we live in tents. There have been problems here, some people died because of fire…we have had enough of war and of destruction, of explosions and killings every day, and of the houses collapsing on our heads. And we have come straight into psychological warfare.

Maybe we should come back to our country, then? That’s it, maybe if we are going to die, we should die in our country.” 

Voluntourism sucks

All it does is line the pockets of poverty profiteers (and, in some cases, human traffickers), give privileged people warm fuzzies for their western savior complex, and give kids abandonment issues. If you want to help, on your next vacation, donate the money you would have spent on your voluntourism trip donating to a reputable charity or buying things from a startup business in a developing area and stay home. Like, literally, you would be doing 1000% more good staying home and binge-watching something on Netflix after making a five-second donation of whatever your travel budget was to a reputable charity than you would going on a voluntourism trip.

Why? Because the kids whom you’ll meet and bond with will suffer intense abandonment issues when you leave.

Why? Because chances are you’re not a construction expert, and that wall you built will end up falling (or being torn) down the second you leave.

Why? Because kids need healthcare, protection and education, not single-serving friends bearing hand-made bracelets.

Why? Because there have literally been human traffickers who have stolen kids from their homes to serve as orphans for voluntourism enterprises.

Why? Because two weeks of untrained, touristy labor is not going to do much in the long run.

Why? Because it reinforces a lot of damaging stereotypes, including the “Poor, starving, diseased Africa” ones and the White/Western Savior ones. 

Seriously, if you want to do good for people who need it, sponsor a kid so they can have school supplies and transport, give to organizations like Project Nurture, that connect agricultural businesses in Kenya and Uganda to mainstream markets. Use the money you’d have spent for air travel, lodging, travel supplies, and “connections” on donating to The Girl Project, Doctors Without Borders, Partners in Health, or YES Liberia instead. Do at-home volunteer work (until you’ve undergone proper training and can pay for insurance, vaccinations, transports, etc, at your own expense. Taking care of unskilled volunteers in other countries is often a drain on a lot of charities’ resources). Just do anything but voluntourism, please.

Nyandwi Velelia lives in Tanzania’s Nduta refugee camp. She has just given birth to triplets at the camp’s MSF-run maternity ward, where almost 490 babies were born last month. Nyandwi and her new baby boys are all healthy. 

Challenges lie ahead for these precious guys- their new home is a tent that leaks when it rains, and their cradle will be a simple mat on the floor. 

Nyandwi is one of 89,000 people now living in Nduta camp - where overcrowded and unsanitary living conditions are contributing to a spike in diseases such as malaria.

Photo: Eleanor Weber-Ballard

“Ummera, ummera–sha” is a Rwandan saying that loosely translated means ‘Courage, courage, my friend–find your courage and let it live.’ It was said to me by a patient at our hospital in Kigali. She was slightly older than middle aged and had been attacked with machetes, her entire body rationally and systematically mutilated. Her face had been so carefully disfigured that a pattern was obvious in the slashes. I could do little more for her at that moment than stop the bleeding with a few sutures. We were completely overwhelmed. She knew and I knew that there were so many others. She said to me in the clearest voice I have ever heard, “Allez, allez. Ummera, ummera-sha”–‘Go, go. Courage, courage, my friend–find your courage and let it live.
—  an excerpt from a personal experience of John Orbinski. Amazing