Be the change you want to see in the world. ~ Ghandi

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

From the President – First Mission

My first mission was with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). They are an international, independent, medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, healthcare exclusion and natural or man-made disasters.

I really had no idea what I was getting into! I was the nurse for the project Habila, which was a remote village on the border to Chad. Habila’s population was about 6,000 prior to the war which began in 2003. When I got there in 2004, there were about 26,000 people that needed help and emergency aid. We took over an abandoned school and turned the school into a hospital which provided medical care to the people.

Habila was a trading place or a daily market to many of the nomads (Janjaweed) and farmers. However both lived in uneasy peace with each other. Women were routinely raped if they left the confines of the town to gather firewood for cooking or heat.

My mission was for 6 months. At the beginning, we started a malnutrition center, but as we cared for the population over time, nutritional statues improved. Common diseases were hepatitis and other water borne diseases like diarrhea, malaria, and trauma…all the usual problems. As the nurse, I was the hospital administrator, Human Resources, Nurse Educator, and Nurse Team Leader for our group of 3…physician, logistician and myself.

In this picture, we went out to visit the nomad camps and take them food. Karen, the woman to the right of the picture, was our Swiss logistician – here you can see that she struggled under the weight of the 60 pound bag of Unimix (80% corn / 2% soy). I however, slung the bag over my shoulder and marched along – causing peels of laughter from the men at my strength.

The nomads thanked us for our help by giving us rides on their camels. We reciprocated by giving them rides in our Toyota Land Cruiser. We also sat down together and shared a meal of goat intestine stew and Fanta Orange.

It was a great day, great memories, wonderful friends and hard work.

                               - Sue Averill, RN
                                  President, One Nurse At A Time