Supposed to be on my 4 th year at University right now, most of my friends are going to be graduates this year and I’m not even close to that. Guess everything happens for a reason, but for this I don’t see any reason why it have to be so damn hard. But again I guess it’s those lessons that ‘life is not easy’ but really does it have to be this hard?? Mmhhh. Maybe it will be a happy new year, the day they say I’m actually cured from XDR (be it in June/July) for me that would be a HAPPY NEW YEAR.
Rape is a crime that affects many aspects of human life; it is a medical emergency, it is a psychological trauma and it has deep consequences on both family and societal level. It is of utmost importance that survivors of rape have access to immediate medical and psychological care, and also for the sake of preventing sexual violence altogether in a long-term perspective it is important that women’s rights in general are improved.
How you feel about coming home also depends on how you left your mission. If the population you were caring for are safe, if your work will continue, if you made a difference and if you can rest assured that the people you have grown to care for will continue to receive the assistance they need, it balances out. If you left in unsettled circumstances, unsure of the security of the population, tasks unfinished and without a replacement to see them through, it’s tough. It leaves you to wonder ‘what was the point?’ and ‘why did I bother?’. Have we done more damage by giving hope and then taking it away, than by not offering hope in the first place?
The combination stressors of unfamiliar climate and diet, not to mention the ideals that lead you into this sort of work in the first place make a lot of people push themselves hard at their jobs – unsurprisingly illness and periods of emotional burnout are not uncommon among the expat workers… only time will tell how I fare. For now I’m going to follow the advice that I’ve been given and hope and pray that my immune system holds up!
“Hello, Emma? Welcome to Nasir, paradise!”
Fifty per cent of the time I slowly roll backwards and end-up with my arms and legs flailing in the air like a stranded tortoise, until Tony frees me from the straps. All my visions of my being a brilliant yet remarkably cool and subtly sexy humanitarian doctor evaporate before I have even received my MSF T-shirt.
I take a couple of deeps breaths. I tell myself ‘everything will be okay’. What on Earth am I doing? And then I remember. Twice whilst I was in Uganda, the distinctive MSF Toyota land-cruiser, adorned with MSF flag and stickers and no weapons logos and giant radio antenna zoomed past me and I got butterflies in my tummy.
The amount of violence and the triggers for it can feel absurd… A husband can chop his wife if she asks why he comes home late. A woman beat her husband with a stick after he asked her for money.
Kaderia* doesn’t know how old she is. As she tells me her story I try to guess her age, she looks about fifty but perhaps her difficult life has made her age quicker. As she talks her face betrays a life of difficulty and anguish but also a look of pride and defiance.
‘My village was a very good place, except this war when people came and destroyed everything and chased the old people until we eventually escaped and came to a safe place. The whole village was burned down.’ She says a lot of people in the village died in the attack.
Kaderia explains that nothing like this had happened in their village before this year. ‘I don’t know why these people did this, maybe they wanted to take the land from us’ she explains.
Cormac blogs about meeting Kaderia, a woman still coming to terms with the violence that uprooted her from her home in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains several months ago. Please leave your questions and comments for Cormac in the comments box below his post.
The baby’s foot was injured. The mother had stabilized the little foot with a piece of cardboard from a food package and a dirty cloth. The sight of this hit me. I felt this enormous empathy for the woman who did all she could to help her baby with the small resources she has.
Accepting this would, for me at least, be paramount to giving up hope – laying down and accepting that these tiny little humans are not entitled to a life. MSF reject this. Where there is no hope, they create it. Sometimes it is not cheap to do, and just occasionally the main result is the creation of hope rather than its fulfilment. What value you give to hope itself… well, I suppose that is subjective. I don’t know what our hypothetical shopkeeper would charge for it, even in festival season. The more I see, the more I believe it is priceless.
Upon spotting the family on the road, we left our vehicles and approached to see how they were doing. The nurse in our team did a quick check to see if they were injured or unwell and, fortunately, they seemed to be physically fine. We asked them where they were coming from, about what had happened. They told us that their village had been bombed.
Tari – a rural, little town in Papua New Guinea’s Southern Highlands has become my home for the next nine months. Here MSF runs an emergency surgical program and a Family Support Center, my work place, where survivors of domestic and sexual violence receive medical and psychological care. The level of domestic and sexual violence in PNG is epidemic. Official data is hard to obtain due to lack of research, but it is estimated that around 70% of all PNG women face physical abuse during their lives. Around half of PNG women are raped in their lifetime. The numbers are horrific, and the numerous individual fates feel overwhelming.