I struggle a lot sometimes with these blogs... trying to figure out the best way to talk about what is going on, give an accurate picture, represent somehow the reality of where we work. i want to be honest and say what i know of the people we are serving, but still avoid the pitfalls and traps of speaking 'for' people. so really, all i can do is say what i see.
I've been trying for days to put into words what I've seen and been told about individuals, humans just like you and I, who have been forced using unimaginable violence to be uprooted from their homes, their own country. Here are just some of the images from just entering camp about an hours drive from Cox Bazaar, the everyday evening sun in Kutupalong refugee camp, and encountering an interesting and unexpected community radio. I commend everyone here truly making the most of what they have, for instance the mighty creative vehicles constructed by a 9 y/o.
The clinic was consistently busy, with around 350 patients a day in the outpatient department and around 200 admitted patients a month. The people had run out of money and their health deteriorated.
We saw more and more people with severe malnutrition, particularly children under five years old. At one point we had 20 patients a day with severe measles in our isolation tent. We received a lot of trauma, and lots of accidents involving children, tetanus, rabies, and other cases I wasn’t used to seeing at home. At the facility we rarely see a newborn that weighs more than 2,500 grams (around five and a half pounds). The mothers are usually malnourished, so the babies don’t have a very good start.
But even then, there are some things i will never talk about explicitly in this blog. the survivors that come to the clinic have stories that are not mine to tell, and would never be appropriate for this forum. but i could give you glimpses perhaps from what i read in the papers, stories that are printed every day of young women assaulted by people they know, or women attacked as they walk home in the night, in the day... really it doesn't appear to matter when they are walking...
and there will never be photos of our beneficiaries. i will show pictures of the clinic when empty, and from that, you will have to imagine a monday, when every bench is occupied by women and their family, women and their friends, women and those who support them/ depend on them.
i want to tell you all a story about people working so hard to fight back against the injustice of violence. i've met so many people who, whether survivors or allies, are committed to ending sexual and domestic violence in png. i could introduce you to high level politicians, to women i meet on the street, to volunteers i talk to in meetings... and i want you to hear that story while i explain the reality of violence here, the scope of it.
and i can tell you our little story, as msf. our story of medical support. of a small act in the midst of this struggle. while it rages on, we say very simply, we are here, you deserve medical treatment, you deserve your health, it is not negated by someone else's violence.
that is what i can tell you.