Niger: "More than ever, I have the MSF 'bug'!"
Alfa is deputy field coordinator with MSF in Niger. He blogs about why he chose to work for MSF, and a certain patient that changed him...
I joined Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) to help people, travel, discover and learn - now, I have the opportunity to do all this!
One of the best things about MSF is that it is a truly multicultural association. I have worked with many nationalities, including: French, Swiss, Spanish, Chinese, Colombian, American, African, and so on.
Before joining I was a teacher and communications trainer.
I took my first steps with MSF in 2005 as a health promoter. I spent the next eight years in the organisation, moving to other roles. I came back in 2016, this time as deputy field coordinator in Diffa. 
More than ever, I have the MSF 'bug'!
Alfa on assignment in Diffa, Niger.

Alfa on assignment in Diffa, Niger. Photo: MSF.


"With MSF you become more human"

MSF is the questioning of its interventions. It is the debate we engage in. It is the the promise to serve, and find ways to serve better.
We go where others do not go, helping people in distress when they need it most!
With MSF, you share in the pain of the patient.
For me it is not money that matters. With MSF, you become more human - you have a certain comfort in your heart not to serve for nothing.
You have the satisfaction of bringing your stone to the humanitarian edifice.

My job

As assistant field coordinator, my job is to support the field coordinator on administrative aspects of project management.
I support them in drafting and compiling reports and correspondence, monitoring performance indicators, and in the analysis and monitoring of the socio-political, humanitarian and security context in Diffa.
I also contribute to creating and maintaining a harmonious relationship with the local and national authorities, as well as with the local communities.
All this helps to make it possible for our medics to do their work.
Another aspect of my role is to facilitate communication between the patients and the project: in particular, oversight of the exchanges between our health promotion team and our patients.
This is important as it ensures the communities we work with have a good understanding of our organisation. It also allows us to gather their suggestions for our services - essential to responding to the needs of the most vulnerable.

Beyond the borders of my country

MSF is far from being a perfect humanitarian organisation.
Despite the differences of opinion amongst our staff, we have always been able to reach our patients and provide them with medical-humanitarian assistance.
MSF enabled my discovery of several cultural, geographical and social realities, that made me travel beyond the borders of my country.
With MSF, I know many corners of my country, and corners outside of it that I would never have known.
When you really want to help others get back on their feet, MSF, in my opinion, is the best organisation to do it with.

A patient I'll never forget

Our work at MSF is always well rewarded, and we are well perceived by our patients.
There is one patient in particular who I will never forget:
During an assignment in 2008, we were travelling from Niamey to Zinder. We made a stopover in the village of Gazaoua.
At the sight of the MSF logo on one of our vehicles, a woman ran up and recognised a member of the team, one of our nurses.
She was the team leader, a dynamic, kind woman in her true calling: Chémaou.
MSF is really one of the biggest universities in the world, where it teaches its staff a lot of good things; both professionally and personally.


The woman invited us to come and see her daughter, whom Chémaou had treated a few years ago.
We went inside her house, where we found a teenager who was pounding the millet for the preparation of the evening family meal.
The mother told Chémaou that in 2005 she had brought her daughter to the CRENAS (center for recovery and severe ambulatory nutrition education) in Aguié, in the Maradi region. At the time, Niger was hit hard by a food crisis and the girl was suffering from severe acute malnutrition.
For the mother, her daughter owes her life to Chémaou. We were all touched and proud.
We left Gazaoua very moved with the satisfaction of seeing a patient we treated, who could now grow up in good health.
This reminded us all of the following adage: "A blessing is never lost! "
MSF is really one of the biggest universities in the world, where it teaches its staff a lot of good things; both professionally and personally.