On October 3rd, 2015 a battle was raging in the city of Kunduz, Afghanistan. Taliban troops had attacked the city and U.S. and Afghan forces were fighting to drive them out. During that battle, something terrible happened. A hospital being run by MSF was bombed by a U.S. military plane. At least thirty people lost their lives, including MSF staff.
Those doctors, and many more who survived and continued to help the injured after their hospital was bombed, did not go to Afghanistan as part of an army and they did not go their because a government ordered them to. They went there because there were people who needed doctors, so the doctors went to help them. They volunteered to go into a war zone simply because they were needed. And for that noble, selfless act, some of them would never return home.
MSF was not targeted, the doctors and patients who died in Kunduz died because they were in a warzone. Despite that, doctors from MSF still journey to Afghanistan to help those who need help. The risks do not cause them to flee, they cause them to come. MSF has doctors in nations facing crisis all over the world, sometimes war, sometimes disease, sometimes natural disaster and sometimes other crises that we cannot contemplate. In all those countries, the doctors go not simply aware of the risks to their safety, but to prevent that risk for others.
The doctors of MSF have been in Afghanistan for decades, been in Aleppo at the heat of the Russian bombardment, been in West Africa during the Ebola outbreak and been in Rwanda during the worst genocide since World War II, losing staff in all of them. With all these risks, it seems impossible that anyone would want to work for MSF.
Yet they do.
What noble selflessness motivates those doctors to help others, despite the risks to themselves, I know not, but I know that we must support them. There will always be dangers in the world and we will always need people who, when confronted by it, will run towards it to see what good can be done.
—by R. Hamilton