What I admire about MSF is its principles and values, with which I feel very aligned. I see firsthand that our assistance is meaningful, and that we are genuinely reaching vulnerable people who, without our help, would be unable to access medical care or would have great difficulties accessing it.
I enjoy the fact that I meet different people through this job. I see their medical conditions and listen to their personal stories and convey their suffering, and I like the notion that I can be, in some small way, 'the voice of the voiceless'.
My work with MSF has really changed me. It has increased my self-confidence and taught me to stand up for my values. It has helped me adopt these values and principles not only at work but also in my personal life. This job has also taught me patience and endurance under all types of pressure. With MSF, I have also learned how to become more flexible and resilient due to the experiences we go through every day and the stories we hear on every visit.
I remember in one detention center, there were new arrivals—people who had been sent back to Libya from the treacherous sea journey. They were exhausted, some were traumatized, and they hadn't had food or slept.
Among the travelers was a group of minors, all under the age of 18. A guard stood by and watched as we talked to the migrants and refugees, including the children, to ensure there were no emergencies or patients in critical condition.
I was talking to a 14-year-old boy using my very basic knowledge of French, taking his name and personal information, when he interrupted to ask me, "Doctor, what are you planning to do with these children? They are only small children, how could they be traveling at sea, alone?" I did not know the answer to this question, but reassured the guard that we would do what we could for them, including referring them to specialist organizations that could help them. The guard impatiently asked me, "But what can I do for them?" I urged him not to put the children in the same place as the adults, and to let them out to breathe the fresh air and see the light of day.
The group of children that we referred to other organizations were voluntarily repatriated to their home countries. Surprisingly, the boy found me on Facebook and wrote, "Dr. Alhan, I am the boy you helped in the detention center with that guard." He assured me that he was safe and well, that he had restarted his education and that he was also working to help his father financially. I was very happy to learn that this brave boy was safely back at home and I was proud of myself for being able to help a person who was experiencing very dark days.
Alaa, Humanitarian Affairs Assistant
Alaa has worked with MSF since March 2021.