Fieldset
Ten amazing stories from MSF teams on the frontlines of 2020

2020 has been a year like no other. COVID-19 has pushed our teams to their limits, as they worked not only to treat patients affected by the virus, but also to maintain vital health services in crises worldwide. These are their stories.

1. "If we don't go, who will?": The Ebola workers risking their lives to save patients

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MSF nurse Courtney Bercan in full protective personal equipment.
MSF nurse Courtney Bercan in full protective personal equipment.

Despite the attacks, many staff stay and continue to work in these insecure environments. This is who they are and why they do it...

When an Ebola treatment centre in the Democratic Republic of Congo was attacked, MSF nurse Courtney had to decide whether she would be part of the team who would travel to the conflict zone to keep the centre open. She introduces us to the inspiring Ebola workers determined to provide vital care.

COURTNEY'S STORY >

 


2. Surprise twins: How working for MSF makes me feel connected to humanity

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The surprise twins delivered in Mamfe, Cameroon
The surprise twins delivered in Mamfe, Cameroon

I was an outsider, and yet I felt like I belonged to that moment with them

Pandemic or not, services for mums and newborns are a key part of our work. After a non-stop night on a maternity ward in the remote town of Mamfe, southwest Cameroon, US midwife Kirsti reflects on the unique moments she shares with her colleagues and patients.

KIRSTI'S STORY >

 

3. Crossing the swamp to keep my promise

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An MSF mobile medical team crosses a makeshift bridge in DRC
An MSF mobile medical team crosses a makeshift bridge in DRC

Then the hurting feet, the nights in the tent, the heat and everything else becomes insignificant. We vaccinate to save lives.

COVID-19 may have grabbed the headlines, but it wasn't the only deadly outbreak in 2020. Through swamps and virtually impassable forests, paediatric nurse Vera rides with a motorbike-mounted medical team – racing to vaccinate children during a dangerous measles epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

VERA'S STORY >

 

4. MSF saved my brother - now I work around the world to help others

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Aisha Akello works with MSF at an IPD camp in Ngala, northeast Nigeria
Aisha Akello works with MSF at an IPD camp in Ngala, northeast Nigeria

When I was living in the camp, I never imagined myself accomplishing something as I am today

As a child living in a displacement camp in Uganda, Aisha Akello first found MSF when her brother needed urgent treatment. More than thirty years later and now working as an MSF midwife, she shares her inspiring story.

AISHA'S STORY >

 

5. The Flooded Island Riddle

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The next few days pass tensely. The rain continues sporadically, softening the runway. Thak and I drive to the airstrip regularly to check on the conditions, willing it to dry. We fear the worst.

When a young patient needed an urgent transfer in impossible circumstances, Dan and the logistics team worked to find a solution to the challenging puzzle. But, in this remote part of South Sudan, not everything was in their control...

DAN'S STORY >

 

6. Yemen: The strength to save my family

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Zainab, an MSF health promoter in Yemen

It can be hard for society to fathom that a woman can be responsible for an entire family. But I challenged their notions: I refused to listen and I continued working.

Yemen's brutal civil war entered its fifth year in 2020. Amid the violence, health educator Zainab shares her deeply personal story of loss and determination.

ZAINAB'S STORY >

 

7. OVERWHELMED: THE MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS AMONG CHILD REFUGEES IN GREECE

The days go by incredibly fast... I’m now used to things that would have seemed impossible to me before

In September the refugee camp in Moria, Greece, was destroyed in a fire. We had repeatedly called for the infamous camp to be closed. This deeply powerful account from Kateřina, a child psychologist, helps to expain why.

KATERINA'S STORY >

 

8.  EIGHT SPACES ON THE PLANE

This choice was one of the most difficult situations I have ever faced. There was no right answer

The team at Lankien hospital in South Sudan was preparing for their first COVID-19 patients when a violent attack nearby brought a crisis of a different kind. British doctor Jennifer Hulse shares this powerful eyewitness account as the team race to stay safe and save lives.

JEN'S STORY >

 

9. DRC: "Helping my community at all costs"

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Djapan, an MSF community health worker in DRC

Four hours by motorbike later, and after making a few detours to avoid the militia, I arrived at the MSF office

What happens when violence breaks out between communities? "Djapan" is 30 years old and works as a community health educator for MSF in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He shares his experiences…

DJAPAN'S STORY >

 

10. Snakes, ladders and COVID-19: HEALTH PROMOTION IN PAKISTAN

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Children play the COVID-19 ludo game

We were faced with the reality that conducting health promotion sessions might be impossible

With a COVID-19 lockdown in place, Seinn Seinn and the team have to find new ways to reach the community. But, as she writes, necessity really is the mother of invention.

SEINN SEINN'S STORY >