Greetings all! Hello and welcome to my blog. My name is Aoife Doran. I am twenty nine years old and I am a doctor from Ireland. I live in Dublin, my home city, and I enjoy running, hiking and cycling. I also like my social life! Today I am embarking on my first mission as a medical doctor with Médecins Sans Frontières. I am both ardent and excited! Now that I have finally filled my backpack to bursting capacity and am ready to go, I would like to tell you a little bit about what I will be doing.
My mission is based in Tripoli, a city in Northern Lebanon. Tripoli lies 31km from the border with Syria (which lies to the north and the east of Lebanon), and it has has now become host to tens of thousands of Syrian refugees who are fleeing their own country due to the ongoing devastation and turmoil there. Hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees have arrived in Lebanon thus far. A large majority have come to Tripoli and also to areas around the Bekaa Valley. Some have been housed by local Lebanese families who have kindly opened their doors. Most are living in extremely poor, overcrowded living conditions, in half-built buildings, garages, warehouses, or any possible place with a roof that they can find.
Though the Lebanese people have been welcoming, as more people arrive and the needs increase, aid and resources are running very low. There are huge administrative difficulties, as UNHCR try to register this vast influx of people. As a result of this, people have been left without basic medical care. As well as this, poor living conditions have led to a major increase in health care needs.
The focus of MSF's work in Lebanon currently is to provide access to healthcare for Syrian refugees and for the vulnerable Lebanese population. MSF has established primary healthcare, including chronic diseases and antenatal as well as mental healthcare in this regard and are working to increase the scale of these programmes in an effort to meet the needs of these people. You can read more about this from reports published on MSF websites, 'Misery beyond the war zone'.
I received an email a month ago from the recruitment section of MSF. The email was in relation to a mission project that MSF were undertaking in the city of Tripoli, focussing on the areas of healthcare mentioned above. Ashamedly I had to get out the globe. I soon discovered I wasn't being sent to Libya! After doing some further research, I became enthralled by the prospect. Lebanon has such an interesting and intricate history! It really is a melting pot for so many cultural influences and so much diversity. Stark differences exist within the country also. The bright lights of Beirut contrasting with the ancient Roman ruins of Baalbek in the Bekaa Valley. And then of course there's the world renowned Lebanese food!
Needless to say I accepted the mission with enthusiasm. The particular mission I am involved with in Tripoli is focused on providing healthcare for the Syrian refugee population, and also for the deprived Lebanese population. I will fly to Geneva, where I will have a briefing from MSF head office. I will fly from there to Beirut, and then travel the 80km further north to Tripoli. My expectations are wide open. As much as I read and research, I think I will have no real idea of what is before me, until I touch down in Lebanon. I also note that my MSF contract states that I could be relocated at anytime, and that missions can change as the health needs change!
So here I go, off into the great unknown! Feel free to read more as I update from the field about 'Life in Lebanon'