Medecins Sans Frontieres workers share their experiences

STORY TELLING: (left to right) Ainsile Mclartly, Claire Waterhouse, Fezile Kanju, Sbu Maseko, Brett Sandler and Dan Sermand share their stories while working at MSF.

STORYTELLING: (left to right) Ainsile Mclartly, Claire Waterhouse, Fezile Kanju, Sbu Maseko, Brett Sandler and Dan Sermand share their stories while working at MSF.

Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF, came together for a “Bed-time stories” evening to share their work experiences.

Wits students were treated to first-hand testimonies from Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)/Doctors without borders field workers at the Wits Medical School campus on Monday.

“Bed-time stories”, an event hosted by Wits Friends of MSF and the Nursing Students Council brought together workers who shared their personal experiences of working for MSF.

Crazy and Unpredictable

Many of the workers confessed that the unpredictability of their work is one of the main reasons they choose to work for MSF.

“You never know what a situation will throw at you, that’s half of the excitement and half of the fun,” said Claire Waterhouse,  a project administrator for MSF who just returned from Liberia.

Even though field workers are trained to deal with different situations you can’t be prepared well enough and can’t predict what will happen, said Waterhouse.

Ainsile Mclartly, a field nurse who recently returned from Afghanistan, said that she loved the craziness, adventure and unpredictability of her job.

Mclartly said that often MSF workers are short of necessary medical equipment which forces them to think creatively and improvise in using what is available for medical procedures.

Conflict Zones

Working for MSF can also be dangerous as field workers are sometimes sent to conflict areas.

“Security definitely plays a role”, said Mclartly.

While in these zones Waterhouse said that, “They [MSF] do a good job of keeping you safe and secure the whole time”.

“There is no such thing as a safe environment”, said Dan Sermand, previous head of mission and field HR (human resources) recruiter for the MSF Braamfontein office.

To be able to work in such places you need to be neutral and impartial when interacting with both sides. “That is your bullet proof jacket,” said Sermand.