MSF anaesthetist Luíza Noronha describes her experience working in a maternity unit in Afghanistan
Khost province is located in the southeast of Afghanistan, close to the border with Pakistan. This place was my home during three incredible months, while I worked as an anaesthetist at the MSF maternity until in the area.
I call it home because that was exactly how I felt: at home. Even though I’ve been back in Brazil for six months now, I feel like a part of me is still there. And I believe it will always be.
Those were three intense months.
I learned, smiled, cried, worked through the night, but I’ve also had my leisure and resting moments. I met people from all around the world, all of them with a common purpose: to help. Each one on its own way, doing what they know. Among these people, many Afghan (both women and men). The cultural abyss that could separate us was only theoretical.
There, together, we shared knowledge and experiences. We shared a bit of each one’s culture, and lived together with differences, respect and curiosity.
I’ve met strong and hard-working women, and heard some of their stories in depth. Yes, they suffer, but their resilience is impressive! I’ve met sweet and thoughtful men. Yes, sweet!
On my way from my room to the hospital, I lost track of how many times I heard a “Good morning” or “How are you?” from the men in the national staff team. They asked me where I was from, if I was having a good time in there, if I was happy. Many of them thanked me for being there in the name of the Afghan population.
However, I must say: I’m the one who should thank you, my friends!
I will always carry with me all the experiences I had during those three months. And, even though I try to explain what it all meant to me, I simply can’t. I can only wish good things to all of those people.
I wish that the Afghan staff that work in the maternity unit continue to develop their knowledge and skills. I wish for them to continue to work with the dedication and the determination I’ve witnessed. I wish that the whole team keeps working together, so they can always give the best support to mothers and babies at the place I consider my second home.
Access to health and medical care is essential, and no one can be deprived of that. That’s the reason why I am so proud of being part of an organization that engages in assuring the universality of this right.