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Sassy Mama Supports: Doctors Without Borders Film Festival

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The Doctors Without Borders Film Festival puts faces to the statistics of crises happening in countries plagued with diseases and conflict

Imagine having to give birth to your child in a war-torn environment, mama. Then imagine having to give birth to your child in a war-torn environment, with six other kids already in tow, their next meals uncertain, their shelter not guaranteed (because of the constant attacks), and your baby’s health possibly deteriorating from the moment he/she is born.

In the documentary Afghanistan: Medics Under Fire, this is exactly what you’ll see goes on in the hospitals that Doctors Without Borders a.k.a. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) have set up in order to provide healthcare support and aid to civilians. On the screen you’ll see how MSF staff work tirelessly to save the lives of war casualties, both young and old, while thousands of miles away from their families and their own lives at risk. So why do they do it?

“When we see a patient come to us in a very bad condition, and then they leave feeling much better, that makes us feel so good. I can’t put it into words, how happy I am. This is my hospital and these are my people.”
– Dr Syed Abbas Saddat, Boost Hospital, Helmand, Afghanistan

The Doctors Without Borders Film Festival – on 3 to 5 August at The Projector – aims to give a first-hand look at the medical action of MSF and their staff to people in Singapore. International and critically-acclaimed documentary films will be shown this weekend with post-screening discussions to shed light on the reality of working in the field, the risks humanitarian workers face in the frontline, and efforts to preserve human dignity of people at the time of crises. Tickets are completely free and you can register easily here.

While Afghanistan: Medics Under Fire clearly shows the chaotic situation plaguing Afghanistan, other films in the line-up (full schedule here) will give insight into other humanitarian issues taking place in different parts of the world. Affliction provides a compelling view of the impact of the Ebola outbreak on the lives of individuals. The film takes us through the three affected countries, starting from the remote village where the first victim was identified. Frontline Doctors: Winter Migrant Crisis shows what conditions are like for migrants fleeing through Europe at the height of winter. Doctors travel to Greece, through the Balkans, Berlin and Calais to understand what’s being done in response to the refugee crisis.

Here in Singapore, some are thrusting themselves into the humanitarian projects abroad and providing help in any way they can through MSF. We spoke with Singaporean Sally Low, a HR/Finance Manager for two of MSF’s HIV/TB projects near the border of Mozambique.

Tell us a little bit about yourself!
A very ordinary girl who studied Biomedical Science and TCM, and recently furthered studies in Public Health at NUS.

How did the decision to volunteer with MSF come about, and what was your role there?
It has always been my dream to be a part of an international humanitarian organisation, but there are not many organisations in Singapore that provide this opportunity and experience. MSF seemed to be the ideal organisation after I did some research but I did not have the skill set as a young fresh grad then. I went on to pursue work related to my field of study, and later on ventured into community work with a small local NGO to gain more experience and skills before applying to MSF and here I am, very grateful for the opportunity.

My profile in MSF was non-medical, HR/Finance, playing a role that does recruitment and management of national staff and manages the finances of the project.

How did you explain the work MSF does to your friends and family?
Most of my friends have already heard/known of the work MSF does from searching online and Google, so I didn’t have to do much explaining. As for my family, especially my parents, it was quite difficult and sensitive, and I would just say it’s volunteer work overseas, providing healthcare to those in need.

What was your biggest takeaway from the experience?
Small actions can have impact, too!

Would you do it again?
Yes, definitely! I am actually in contact with my career manager at MSF for new opportunities since the completion of my public health program recently. Hope one comes along soon!

Thank you for sharing, Sally! Make sure to reserve your tickets to the festival, mama, and get ready to be moved by these stories.

When: Friday, 3 August – Sunday, 5 August
Where: The Projector, 6001 Beach Road, #05-00, Golden Mile Tower, 199589
How much: Free! Book your tickets here!

All images courtesy of Médecins Sans Frontières

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