Episode: "Caught In The
Name: Roger Micolta
Birthplace: Cali, Colombia
Hobbies if any: I love to play soccer, play Playstation,
ride my bike, listen to rock music and spend time with my family
many years have you been with MSF?
One year and seven months
What brought you to MSF and what awakened your interest
in humanitarian work?
A few years back I heard about MSF – its humanitarian work
and the Nobel Peace Prize. This brought my attention to the work
that MSF does. Later on though, I started to think about the humanitarian
aid that my society needs for a lot of the problems that it has.
It was like a dream for me to notice that MSF had a project in Cali
and that a physical therapist was required; I applied, passed the
tests and now here I am with MSF.
I have always liked humanitarian aid, because it is the type of
job where you can help someone else without expecting anything in
return. You just hope that the living conditions of these people
Most memorable moment with MSF?
The most memorable moment was when a 16 year-old patient with a
spinal lesion who had been in a deep depression for months –
refusing to speak, silent, sitting alone in her wheelchair –
started telling me about her suffering with severe neural pain and
how it kept her awake at night…she was desperate and did not
know what to do.
Just by explaining to her the reason for her pain, just by listening
to her and by talking to her everything changed. Her attitude changed…radically.
She worked very hard – when she finished her rehabilitation
treatment, she walked out the door on a walker. On her own.
What is your general impression of your work in Cali?
My general impression is that our country still needs aid and that
this aid has to be at a high level.
What professional significance has your work with MSF had
for you? What have you learned personally?
The professional growth is immeasurable: the process of learning
the real value of physical rehabilitation based on the needs of
the community – the human contact that strengthens for me
the value of the ethics and the responsibilities of the medical
On a personal level, I’ve learned to appreciate human values
that get lost in daily life. I’ve learned to have an objective
and direct insight towards human behavior. And to always have in
mind that we can bring something to the world around us, even just
by listening to the people who need it.
What are your hopes for the people you serve in Cali and
in Colombia in general?
I hope that the social violence will subside, that its crippling
effects will disappear and that people with disabilities can reconstruct
How do you face the causes of violence in the community
while you are working with its effects?
Confronting the causes is very difficult, as is confronting its
effects. The violence has multiple origins and even though understanding
these origins doesn’t justify them, it does allow you to have
a good notion of how to approach them. It’s important to know
that the violence is not a decision taken on your own; it is part
of a life system in Colombia where the State cannot meet the basic
requirements of the communities. The effects of this can be seen
in people with broken lives trying to remedy something that has
no remedy and trying to survive in even harsher conditions than
they are used to these days. It is reflected in the city itself…the
number of people with physical disabilities is rising and this leads
to poorer communities. This is turn creates more violence, which
produces physical disabilities.
Some other comment regarding your work?
In my job, to see a smile on a face and receive a “thank
you” is the biggest and most wonderful reward that you can