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Doctors Without Borders / MSF-USA
We find out where conditions are the worst—the places where others are not going—and that's where we want to be.
We find out where conditions are the worst—the places where others are not going—and that's where we want to be.

Doctors Without Borders / MSF-USA's posts

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Kim Clausen is one of our tour guides traveling with the Forced From Home refugee exhibit in the United States. He recounts the story of a baby being thrown into his arms during a desperate situation.

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Boston Event October 18: MSF has had to find new ways to address the medical issues of people on the move. Our panel of experienced aid workers will share their stories of treating people in these precarious circumstances:

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MSF Communications Officer Charlotte Morris spent two weeks in the Bokoro region of Chad, 300km east of the nation’s capital, N’djamena. She was there to gather interviews, photos, and video that MSF can use to communicate with the public about the malnutrition crisis in the country. Whilst there, she noted the increasing number of cases related to malnutrition, specifically among children under the age of five.

When Charlotte first arrived to visit an outpatient clinic, she was overwhelmed by roughly 400-500 mothers, all with malnourished babies. She was ready to begin conducting interviews with the young mothers about the crisis. Understandably, many mothers did not want to speak to Charlotte, for various reasons. Until she met Hawa.

At 29 years old, Hawa was visiting the clinic because her seven months old daughter, Mikaela, was extremely malnourished and had a respiratory illness. She decided to visit the MSF clinic because she was told that there were people there giving out ‘Plumpy Nut’, in addition to helping Mikaela with her health problems.The good news for Hawa was that Mikaela was now better. Her respiratory infection cleared, she no longer had diarrhea, and she gained enough weight to be discharged from the clinic. Unfortunately, many children were not so lucky.

Many of the children’s health was so bad, that they needed to be moved to outpatient clinics, anywhere from a half and hour to three hours away. To Charlotte, it was shocking to see so many others who had sick children, refuse care. However, many of these young mothers have seen some kids recover by themselves, so they did not need outpatient. Additionally, these mother, often times, have other children at home to take care off, so the time and distance commitments seemed all too yielding.

By the end of her two weeks, it was clear to Charlotte that the malnutrition crisis in Chad is not a one-off emergency, it’s chronic.These cases are not only caused by lack of food due to harsh conditions, but also lack of education as to what to feed the children and the importance of hygiene. Overshadowing all of that, there are various cultural practices that can make vulnerable, malnourished children more ill.

It’s a huge challenge for MSG to attempt to tackle, but if it were not for the perseverance of the MSF staff and the resilience of mothers and their children, this crisis would certainly worsen. As someone said to Charlotte while she was there, “you’ve got to be tough to live in Chad.”
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Tomorrow: We’ll be hosting a webcast entitled ‘The Global Refugee Crisis: Humanitarian Needs and International Policy. Moderated by journalist Ann Curry, MSF aims to bring forth solutions to the global refugee crisis and figure out ways to provide refugees with the aid they need.
Special Advisor to the UN Summit on Migrants and Refugees Karen Koning AbuZayd, Jason Cone, Executive Director of Doctors Without Borders USA, and Hans Van de Weerd, the International Rescue Committee’s Deputy Director of US programs, will discuss the many challenged ahead for people who have been #ForcedFromHome. Register here:

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Meet 32-year-old Zara Abba.

Zara is from the capital of Chad, N’djamena. She has been at MSF’s intensive care unit in Bokoro for four days, caring for her granddaughter, two-year-old Katalma Moussa.

Zara was visiting Bokoro to pay respects to a family member who recently passed away, when her granddaughter suddenly fell ill.

Katalma has not put on any weight and is extremely weak to the point that it takes all of her energy just to swat flies from her face. Additionally, Zara had to stop taking her outside to play with the other children, due to her lack of energy. “She was always hungry and crying and it was like the milk we were giving her wasn’t enough. I looked after her for seven days at home but after that knew I had to get her to a clinic,” Zara explained. As soon as they arrived to the clinic, MSF doctors examined Katalma and gave her water and an injection. Since then, there has been a noticeable difference in her health, and she began to get her appetite back.

Zara is pleased to take the measures necessary to care for her granddaughter. “I would travel all the way to France for my children’s health,” she says. “so I have no problems staying here until Katalma gets better.” Although conditions are less than favorable, Zara realizes that she must endure these conditions if it means that her granddaughter will survive. She has given birth to 15 children before; seven of the children have passed away, and eight are still living. “Two of them were twins and they died on the same day they were born. The others, I don’t know why, it was God’s choice.”

Unfortunately, occurrences like these are very common in Chad. Women marry extremely young, and become pregnant very soon after giving birth. With high rates of malaria, poor hygiene, and lack of nutritious food, losing children is not unusual.

However through all of this, Zara is still optimistic about her remaining children and her grandchild. “Four of my children are married and the other four still live with me. All of them have gone to school and I hope they can achieve something with their lives. This is my daughter’s first child. She’s still in N’djamena but I’ve been speaking to her every day. She calls to ask about the health of her daughter. I say, ‘your daughter is getting better, and MSF have gone above and beyond to help your daughter. They’ve worked really hard.”

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