Healing with Onnie
Onnie is a Labrador Retriever in Mexico who was trained to provide therapeutic support to children, adolescents, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Animal-assisted psychotherapy helps people express their emotions and solidify trust in their psychotherapist. “There are people with complex trauma who cannot say, ‘Today I am very sad,’ but can say, ‘Today Onnie looks sad,’” said MSF psychologist Alicia de la Rosa.
An open home amid war
Natalia Chorna and Valeriy Chorny allowed MSF to use their home in Posad-Pokrovske, a village in Ukraine’s Kherson region, for consultations in late 2022. We visited them again in 2023. “There was no network, so it was very difficult for us to contact Natalia," said Robin Ehret, MSF project coordinator. "At some point we managed to reach her. She said, ‘To find me, I will put fire on some tires in the village.’ This worked very well.”
A first-born in Amacuro
Adelia, 18, is a member of the Warao indigenous community in Delta Amacuro state, Venezuela, to whom health care is largely inaccessible. To give birth, she planned to visit the wisirato, a spiritual healer and purveyor of traditional medicine, but when the labor pains began, they were so strong it frightened her. She and her mother paddled two hours by boat to MSF’s outpatient clinic in Nabasunka, where she gave birth to her first child, Antonio.
Surviving the stigma of noma
Mohammadu Usman is a survivor of noma, a preventable tropical disease that can cause disfiguring injuries to the skin and bones of the face. After receiving treatment at the MSF-supported Sokoto Noma Hospital in Nigeria, he now works at the facility. After two rounds of surgery and a long course of treatment, he has a new outlook: “I can go anywhere now, and I don’t feel ashamed.”
A child walks after malnutrition
Paulina Cassombu's daughter, Rosa, walked again after MSF teams in Angola treated her for severe malnutrition. Her treatment included psycho-stimulation to regain mobility.
"If a child is hospitalized for a long time due to severe malnutrition, they can lose some physical and cognitive capacities," said Isabel Zua, an MSF psychologist. "When I see that the sessions I do are helping a child to walk again, for example, from the bottom of my heart, it's better than a salary."
A chance at life with HIV/AIDS
“In 2001, when the counselor said ART [antiretroviral therapy] could prolong my life, I thought it would be two to three years. But here I am, 22 years later,” said Fred Minandi. Now 63, he was the fourth patient to receive ART as part of MSF’s HIV/AIDS project in Chiradzulu district, Malawi.
Maternal care in Bamyan province
Naqiba, 19, delivered her second child at an MSF-supported health facility in Bamyan province, Afghanistan. Afghan women experience massive barriers to accessing care due to gender-based restrictions on their freedom of movement and their ability to work and study under Taliban rule. In Bamyan, it is estimated that over 40 percent of new mothers delivered their babies at home without professional assistance in 2022.
Inclusivity for LGBTQ asylum seekers
“I feel that I belong to a community for the first time in my life," says Yuli*, an asylum seeker from Cuba and an MSF patient in Greece. As a Black transgender woman, her journey to safety was particularly dangerous. Once she reached Greece, she received inclusive care at an MSF clinic
Migration, through children's eyes
"I pray to God that I will cross the border and be with my dad there. That I can go to the United States ... and be happy there." In June, MSF and ¡Hola! Combo presented Little Birds, a short animated documentary featuring the stories of seven children living at the Senda de Vida shelter in Reynosa, Mexico, where MSF provides physical and mental health care.