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Patricia Carrick

MSF nurse

The woman’s upper body was curved around one middle bed leg, her legs wedged around the opposite middle bed leg, her lower legs and feet protruding from under one side of the bed, her face from the other, staring up into a blank nothing, her mouth stretched wide, the desperate death-mask I am coming to recognise. She was still breathing but could not respond, even to moan.

Despite training in Brussels, briefing in Freetown and Bo and Kailahun, an ever-increasing pile of tales of misery, and my own past experience, I admit I was dumbfounded. I began to reach toward her and realised there was nothing, nothing to be done. I turned to Konneh stupidly and, bless him, even from within the depths of my PPE (personal protective equipment) and his, he had the compassion to say it to me in words – "We cannot do anything for her, Patricia." We could not move her, lift her – we could not even wrest her from under the bed. We had no proper equipment, we had limited time and energy; we had come for other tasks, the discharge of survivors.

To read more, visit blogs.msf.org/patricia

SIERRA LEONE
Thulile
© Kate Ribet

Thulile

29 years old

I first heard about MSF early last year, and joined my first club towards the end of 2013. Before clubs, you would first have to queue to get your file, then queue to get your blood pressure and weight measured, and then queue to see your nurse to get your treatment. If the clinic was full, you could be there from 7am to 1pm. When your month’s supply of ARVs came to an end, you started dreading the clinic visit. You put it off. But with clubs, you actually look forward to the visit! It only takes an hour and we get two months' supply of ARVs.

SOUTH AFRICA

Sphiwe

started on ARVs at Mashobeni clinic as part of the EEAA strategy

I am a rural health motivator (RHM); one of the people who have been trained by the Ministry of Health to conduct health promotion and home-based care at community level. As an RHM I talk about these things. Even at our support group we talk about it and encourage people to know their status and adhere to their medication. Being a part of these groups has helped me to accept my status and use my story to encourage other people in my community.

SWAZILAND
Svetlana
© Julie Rémy / MSF

Svetlana

a patient receiving counselling from an MSF psychologist

I was in the yard with my husband when the shelling came. We had heard shelling before, but never this close. An artillery shell hit very close by. My husband was very badly wounded. Some shrapnel went into my legs and my chest. I still have a piece of metal lodged between my ribs. I called for an ambulance, but they said it was too dangerous … My husband died in the yard.

I’ve been staying at this hospital in Svitlodarsk for two months with my five-year-old daughter because we have nowhere else to go. I’m too afraid to go back to Debaltsevo ... Now I hear explosions when there aren’t any. When my daughter hears an explosion, she asks "Is that a grad or a shell?" Is that normal for a five-year-old?

UKRAINE