Doctors Without Borders – A Great Volunteer Organization
With the outbreak of Ebola in Africa and the subsequent frenzy here in the United States, there has been one organization that has been consistently risking their lives to help solve these problems, and they deserve a lot of praise.
Doctors Without Borders originated in France as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and is a humanitarian organization. MSF does a lot of their work confronting diseases like the Ebola Virus in regions that don’t have access to the education and medical equipment necessary to fight the virus. In 1999, MSF deservedly received the Nobel Peace Prize.
MSF is now an international organization whose headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. Although an organization that works internationally, and receives funding from international governments and corporations, MSF is not aligned with any state, religious, or political organizations. Those governmental and corporate donations provide only 20% of the organizations yearly budget of 400 million dollars, the rest is from private donors. This allows them to operate without any bias.
MSF requires a lot of logistics to be able to enter regions in conflict and is comprised of doctors, nurses, recruiters, engineers, and other medical professionals. These volunteers give their time because they believe the needs of the people outweigh the need for religious, political or governmental affiliations.
MSF was started in 1971 after the Nigerian Civil War. A few doctors from France had volunteered for the Red Cross to help the Biafrans who were at war with Nigeria at the time. Many of these doctors were attacked by the Nigerian army since they were assisting the enemy. These doctors came together and decided that, to help everyone, they would need to start an organization that is apolitical.
Much like the Peace Corps, whose volunteers leave lives of comfort to help third world countries, the humanitarians that volunteer for MSF know the work comes with substantial risks. Injuries are often sustained and many die as a result of various threats. Zones in conflict are replete with mines and aid workers are often seen as the enemy by opposing forces or even from within the community they are helping. In addition, many doctors contract the disease they came to help with. A month ago, a doctor who had contracted Ebola while traveling to Africa was cured in New York.