Read about first-hand accounts from MSF aid workers and patients.

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August 09, 2009

The Simelela center was set up to offer medical care, the collection of forensic evidence, counseling and follow-up care for victims of sexual violence in the rape-ravaged township of Khayelitsha. “We did a lot of work to raise awareness. We went door-to-door, held marches, and put on puppet shows for children at schools and crèches. We told them, ‘Speak up and break the silence about rape’. Married women or girlfriends who had been imprisoned in their own bedrooms told us what happened to them."

August 09, 2009

Theresa Saday, 40, is confronting the problem of sexual violence in Liberia, where she works with MSF to counsel sexual violence victims and their parents. “We meet parents on a daily basis who are unhappy that their children, who have been raped or abused, will go to the police. These parents are anxious, they are afraid for their children’s safety. So they turn to us with their concerns and for support.”

July 27, 2009

Sandra was raped by thieves who came to steal her family's savings in Bunia, DRC. They beat her father, and threatened to burn down their home if she reported them. Sandra had camped in the church for two nights, alone with no water or food, hiding from her attackers while she waited for us. The villagers had asked if she needed anything. She had told them, “No. I just want to be alone.” We treated her, diminishing her risk of catching HIV.

July 21, 2009

"Internally displaced people in Colombia often describe themselves as being 'refugees for life'. On the one hand, this stigmatizes them. On the other, the conflict has penetrated deeply into the social fabric of society."

July 20, 2009

Esther, 17, was raped at 8 o'clock in the morning at a public bus stop in Guatemala City. Two months later she is struggling to find a way back to normalcy. "The first night was very difficult. I had dreams about what happened to me. I cried a lot. I couldn’t sleep for a few nights. I was scared to have dreams about it, and it might come back. I see in my dreams the moment when he pushed me against the wall and lifted my skirt. . . I had the image of his face in my mind. I will never forget that. He was fat, dark with long hair, with a moustache."

July 17, 2009

Today I went to the third, and final, place where we are doing medical clinics, in the area of Dakshin Bedkashi. You really have to watch out for high tide, because you can only pass through certain places at low tide. Otherwise, where the pathway is broken, you have to go up to your chest through water with strong currents.

July 13, 2009

An MSF patient from Quibdo, Colombia, was 13 when she was raped by her neighbor two years ago. The difficult consequences have had a major impact on her life. "The man lived next to us. We all shared a bathroom. I was home alone, and it was morning before I had to leave for school. I was washing and he saw me and came into the house. My little sister had damaged our TV plug so he told me to come in and watch his TV. So I came in with a chair, and as I was sitting down he came close to me, grabbed my arms and tried to make me sit on the bed."

July 10, 2009

It is my third day here in Satkira District of Bangladesh. About six weeks ago, this place was inundated with water when Cyclone Aila hit and broke many levees in a region where people live at or below sea level. The result was much like Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

June 04, 2009

"Violence has never stopped, it has always been present. Sometimes it is the result of the political conflict between the government and armed groups and sometimes it is different: banditry or intra-community conflicts."

June 04, 2009

Since I started with MSF, women’s reproductive health programs have grown in priority. This makes sense in light of high maternal mortality rates in the contexts where MSF works. With much more information and evidence available, I think we are doing a better job of providing “best practices” within our projects.

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