Medecins Sans Frontieres / Doctors Without Borders
In Nairobi and on my way home via Amsterdam and Detroit...
In my row on the plane, there was a young woman, an Indian doctor trained at Johns Hopkins, headed to the Congo to work for 8 months with Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders). She had a big, heavy pack, the official bag of the organization, with a required ID sticker on the outside and MSF tape hanging off the side. She said it contained everything she might need, including a tarp that could be used as a tent. She had an ID badge too, which she was required to wear. “It’s awkward,” she said, “People always ask me if I can help them in airport stores because they think I work there.” We laughed. I really liked this woman. She had a great personality and sense of humor, and I know she’ll do well when she’s picked up and taken 300 km to the site where she’s going. There are already 2 Canadians, 2 Italians, and some other volunteers there. She said they desperately need a hospital, so they are working to petition the government.
Medecins Sans Frontieres always impresses me. They manage to use every dollar well. They get right to the heart of the problem and fill in gaps left my other NGOs. They were the first ones on site when the tsunami happened, and since there was other health care arriving, they focused on what was lacking, psychological assistance for survivors.
In the crowded transfer line at the Nairobi airport, where people kept trying to push in, from my place smashed between the Mexican businessman in front of me, the Muslim woman in black in back, and the African man with the cross around his neck who continually tried to cut the queue, I couldn’t help advocating for this woman, since her connection was tight and I wanted her to be able to get there to do this great MSF work.