DRC: The smile that keeps me working

Floribert is a mental health counsellor for MSF in Mweso, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He shares his experiences...

The Mweso area sees regular clashes between the military and various armed groups, and between different factions of those groups, followed by looting of homes and violence directed at civilians. Banditry and highway robbery are rampant.

The violence forces people to move around constantly to stay safe. They spend their days in one of the villages in the area, but return to Mweso at night, as it‘s a little more secure than the surrounding villages. Mweso is a permanent reception area for displaced people.

Image shows a man with a huge smile

Floribert conducts a consultation with his patient Fabien. Photo: Sara Creta / MSF

This is where I work, providing psychosocial support to the victims of the violence. My name is Floribert Nzaioturiki. I’m from Mweso and live here with my wife and five children. I‘ve been working as a psychosocial counsellor with MSF since 2009, mainly at Mweso's general hospital, which is supported by MSF, and sometimes at Tumaini clinic, where we care for victims of sexual violence.

Many people have been traumatised by the horrific events that have happened in and around Mweso. They are emotionally damaged. As a result of repeated traumas, many people are unable to work in the fields, take care of their families or hold down jobs. They drink too much alcohol to try and repress the dark thoughts that eat away at them. They are plunged into total despair and often behave strangely.

My job is to care for their psychological wellbeing. Each time that I succeed in bringing a smile back to their faces, I become more motivated to continue to do this hard yet important work. We are here to help people with difficult problems and this is a source of pride for me.

The effects of the conflict on the mental health and psycho-social wellbeing of those living in Mweso is profound. As MSF, we should be proud of what we do each day to help them see that life still has purpose and meaning.