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Volunteer from the Doctors Without Borders pose for a group picture during the event. Photo by Julien Jame Apale.

Switzerland-based humanitarian org visits Davao

To deliver stories of the humanitarian action live from the war zone, Medecins Sans Frontieres organized an event entitled Saving Lives last October 17 & 18, 2017 at Cinematheque Davao, Palma Gil.

Medecins Sans Frontieres, also known as Doctors Without Borders, is an international and independent organization catering to victims of armed conflicts and natural disasters by providing them emergency aid and medical care.

Dr. Karina Marie Aguilar, an Anesthesiologist and one out of the four speakers present during the event, discussed the origin of the organization.

“We were founded in 1971 by a group of French doctors and journalists. And this was born out of a conflict. […] So, from that conflict, they wanted an NGO that would respond to emergencies and be able to tell something about it so that the world will know.”

Dr. Aguilar discussed further the nature of MSF to break all misconceptions surrounding their nature of work.

“Our work is aimed to preserve life and alleviate suffering with the view to protect human dignity and restore people’s ability to make their own decisions. So, we’re not into development; we’re not into peacebuilding, states building, and human rights work.”

Romel Nalitan, a nurse from Bukidnon and one of the speakers, shared the danger of providing aid in areas with armed conflicts.

“Security is the first priority. Ang MSF ‘no, dili pataka ug adto didto. Naay gubat, muadto. Dili na kuan, naa mi expert team—mag assess, unsay kinahanglan didto,” Nalitan told the audience. Stressing that careful planning is one factor that makes an MSF project successful.

Nalitan also discussed the importance of accepting diversity in their field of work.

“I also experienced living with different cultures. Lahi-lahi ang kultura na ahong na-adtuan, adto ko sa Muslim country, adto ko sa Kristiyano—pero lahi ilang practice. Pero I realized nga pareho ra man pud tang ta-o. Nanginabuhi gihapon.”

Maria Beatriz Uy and Sarah Jane Deocampo shared their respective stories through series of photos showcasing that helping people go beyond just medical work.

Deocampo, a Psychologist and a field worker based in Iligan, gave the audience a glimpse of the happenings during the entirety of the Marawi siege.

As a Psychologist, she proved that as humans, victims of the Marawi conflict need mental healing as much as they need treatments of the Physical kind.

The first leg of the Saving Lives event capped off with an open forum, where the audience was free to ask the speakers questions.

One of the queries during the question proper of the event was from a teenage girl who asked, “Have you ever had a patient who is a terrorist or a terrorist leader, and if you have not what would you do if you have one?”

“Given the fact that one of our ethos is impartiality, yes. I have handled patients, but given the fact that we are an impartial organization, we treat them. They’re not Taliban, they’re not military, they’re patients. And patients need to be treated,” answered Dr. Aguilar.

Another person from the MSF team also decided to answer the question.

“A patient is a patient is a patient. What we really need is a patient who needs medical care for as long as he is not armed whenever he is inside our house facility.”

For the second day, a film show was prepared by the organizers where two documentaries entitled Living in Emergency and Access to the Danger Zone are to be screened.

The Medecins Sans Frontieres’ journey in sharing and educating others through their stories does not just stop there. After the event, the MSF team is open to hosting another series of talk and invited institutions all over the city to contact them and reach out.

To know more about their field of work and ways on how to contact them, visit www.doctorswithoutborders.org.

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