Saturday, July 26, 2003

Guestblog - Deven Singhal on Doctor's Without Borders

Lots of people have heard about msf, and most know that they go into war torn countries and disaster areas to give medical aid and care to those most in dire need. But what would it actually feel like to be one of these souls to go into darkness so that others might have a chance to again see the light?

I'd like to think that I'm capable of such selfless action, to risk my position of privilege for others in less fortunate positions but I don't know for sure. War and disaster scares me, as well it should.

Could I deal with sleepless nights, malnourishment, constant stress with only my co-workers and my belief that I'm doing the right thing to sustain me? I suppose there's something else that would support me at those times... the reaction of the people whose lives I influence.

I don't mean gratitude.

The notion of gratitude seems misplaced when stitching together someone who's just been rent apart by a landmine. What I mean is the feel of their life, their breath, their spirit. The idea that this is someone who probably wouldn't have been helped if I wasn't there.

Maybe shows like MASH have romanticized the idea of a doctor, on the brink of something terrible, saving lives while retaining a sense of humanity and wit, but I believe there is a truth there. That there sometimes is a such thing as absolute good, and that fills me with hope.

Which is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Deven Singhal is a second year law student at University of Victoria, who is currently working with at risk youth in Banff, Alberta.

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