“To learn that you are sick – it’s a shock. You don’t feel anything, it doesn’t hurt. But then you are scared: what will they say at work? I quit my job, spent three months in hospital. I felt bad because of the medicines: I was nauseous, my stomach hardly worked, I had no strength to get up, I was dizzy, I had pain in my joints. You have to take your drugs daily under medical supervision, because no sane person can bring himself to swallow the stuff that produces such severe side effects. And it’s every day, not just for a week, a month or even a year, but for 18-20 months ... MSF were there for me. Many thanks for their invaluable support. How many times have I seen the joy in the eyes of patients coming from the counsellor's office!”Belarus
© Mahsa Ahrabi-Fard
I gave birth at the Gbaya Dombia maternity hospital on the afternoon of 30 October 2016.
The birth went very well, and afterwards I was transferred to a recovery room. I was there with my friends and family when I heard gunfire, and then I heard banging at the gate of the hospital. It was then that the wounded started to arrive. There were a lot of people and they were everywhere. There were wounded in all the beds except mine.
In this neighbourhood [PK5] insecurity is constant. We regularly hear gunshots and every two or three days there’s a fight. People argue and then pull out a weapon. Weapons are everywhere. Even honest, hardworking people carry weapons to protect themselves.Central African Republic
We often have to flee clashes between the armed groups and the regular army. That’s why we can’t tend our fields. When we’re able to return, either the crops have spoiled or they’ve destroyed or burnt them all. Life is difficult in Ngola and it’s tough to find food in the forest. My three children and I received some food only once from an NGO and now my children have been treated at the Makala health centre for free. I thought I was going to lose one of them to malaria. The distribution of soap, blankets, fabric (for the women to carry children, swaddle babies and use as clothing), mosquito nets and farming tools will help us, as we have nothing ─ we have lost it all. We need everything.
Ngola, in Lulingu, is quite isolated. Only MSF was able to distribute the non-food items. They used 30 motorcycles in an operation that took more than a week.Democratic Republic of Congo
They escape only to be confronted with a new challenge here at Idomeni. The camp in the north of Greece on the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has formed around an international freight train station for goods and a cattle slaughterhouse. Accommodating over 10,000 refugees and migrants, these people live in constant fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of receiving the worst news from home - will the next bomb in Syria kill somebody they love? The genuine fear of being sent back.
The distress and frustration here is palpable. For Hamza, we had to prescribe relaxants. An extreme response - used as a last resort. But in this case, he was causing himself serious physical harm and with many women and young children inside, we had no other option. We kept him in the clinic for observation and spent time listening to his story before referring him to one of our psychologists.
I hope he will do well. But to be honest, I don’t know what will happen to him as time goes on. Nobody knows what will happen to him, or indeed anyone stuck Idomeni. It seems they are trapped in no-man’s land. As one patient told me, “We are dying here, just like we were in Syria, but slower”.
“When I returned home after leaving the Ebola treatment centre, only my sons and daughters approached me; all the other people were too scared to. Now the situation is much better but I’m still affected by cataracts and because all eye surgery on Ebola survivors is forbidden, I cannot be operated upon.”Guinea