Thursday, November 06, 2008

An Imperfect Offering

Paul Martin spoke eloquently about public service last night, about the importance of those who have been "lucky in life" to pay it back. That's one reason he gave up his successful business career to enter politics. And in his post-Prime Minister life he is focusing on projects focused on the Canadian aboriginal community and Africa. He pointed out that Africa will be the most populous continent soon, and Canada has a long tradition of being on the ground there.
Canadian Dr. James Orbinski was on the ground in Africa during the very worst times. As a medical student in 1988, Orbinski travelled throughout Rwanda. Returning to Canada he helped establish the Canadian chapter of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders/MSF). With MSF he travelled to Peru, Somalia and Afghanistan. In 1994 he agreed to go to Rwanda to serve as Chef de Mission for MSF in Kigali. Faced with the hell of the genocide around him Orbinski struggled. But he resumed his work with MSF and was MSF's president when the organization was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999.

Orbinski tells his story in his book, An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarian Action in the Twenty-First Century (2008). As well, Orbinski himself is in Edmonton tonight, opening the Global Visions Film Festival with a documentary about him, Triage: The Humanitarian Dilemna of Dr. James Orbinski. The films' director, Patrick Reed, will be on hand as well. The screening is at 8 pm, at the Paramount Theatre (10233 Jasper Ave.).Orbinski's Canadian MSF colleagues have books too! Hamiltonian Dr. Richard Heinzl (the "Founder of Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders Canada") has, Cambodia Calling: A Memoir from the Frontlines of Humanitarian Aid (2008). Montrealer Marc Vachon was a logistician for MSF. His book, Rebel Without Borders: Frontline Missions in Africa and the Gulf (2008) is a translation of his French language book, Rebelle sans frontieres (2005), also available at the Library. Also available is Hope in Hell: Inside the World of Doctors Without Borders (2004) by Dan Bortolotti, a more general overview of the entire MSF organization. James Orbinski's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech for MSF is included in an appendix.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home